HOUSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
Houston * JM:!l£ libXatf * Texas
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A stirring narrative of adven-
ture, hardship and privation
in the early days of Texas,
depicting struggles with
the Indians and other
HOUSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
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A stirring narrative of adven-
ture, hardship and privation
in the early days of Texas,
depicting struggles with
the Indians and other
Copyright, 1926, by Rachel Lofton, Susie
Hendrix and Jane Kennedy.
Picture of Quanna Parker, Chief of Comanche Indians,
Please do n &i s
book or turn down the p;
In presenting this little book to the public, our aim and
desire is to impress or refresh the minds of the people of the
hardships and suffering the pioneer settlers of Texas had to
endure in opening the way for the blessings and civilization the
people of Texas now enjoy. We realize the fact, that half has
never yet been told, no doubt it never will all be told. Our
grandfather has only given a brief sketch of his travels and
trials while seeking to rescue his daughter and grandson from
captivity by the Redmen; also his niece, Cyntha Ann Parker,
that was captured at the Parker Fort massacre on the Navasota
River ; and it is not our desire to rekindle the ill feelings between
the Redmen and the Paleface men, that existed between the two
tribes at that time. We would much rather strengthen, amity
confidence and good will between the tribes.
Who knows what suffering and grief those people endured
with the captivity of the little girl, Cyntha Ann Parker, who in
later years became the wife of a favorite Comanche Chief.
Then in the due course of time became the mother of the noted
Chief Quanna Parker, who in later years, by his great influence
over the Redmen, persuaded and prevented the Redmen from
wageing a cruel war on the Paleface. On one occasion the Red-
men declared war on the Paleface; Quanna alone opposed the
war and they held another council and because of the Paleface
blood in his veins they declared him a traitor to the Redmen,
and condemned him to be put to death. He told them, "the Pale-
face have many braves ; we have only a few braves ; our braves
will all be killed by the many Paleface braves ; save our braves,
raise more braves, and become a great nation like the Paleface."
Yet they declared he must die. "I am willing to die for my
braves, give me a fair chance; fight me singly, one at a time;
do not take advantage and double on me, and I will fight you to
the death to save my braves." In this one act, he no doubt
averted war and preserved many lives of both tribes, as well as
much suffering and distress. Is it the unseen hand of provid-
ence? Who knows, who can say, of a truth, it is, or is not.
In offering this little narrative to the public, we are sorry
the first 10 pages are incomplete, having been torn and de-
stroyed. Hoping the public will give this little narrative a liberal
patronage and careful consideration, of its contents, and think
if we of today do not owe to the memory of all of the pioneers
who blazed the way in this great State, for our present enjoy-
ment and blessings ; we say all, not only those mentioned in this
little book, but all who helped in the struggle in those perilous
times, a gratitude of which language is not at our command to
MRS. JANE KENNEDY, Granddaughter of
J. W. Parker.
MRS. RACHEL LOFTON, Greatgranddaughter.
MRS. SUSIE HENDRIX, Granddaughter.
Capture of Fort Parker — inhuman butchery of its inmates —
Marvelous escape of my brother's wife and ttvo children —
Mrs. Duty, my mother-in-law, stabbed by the Indians and
left as dead — sufferings of my family and those with us in
escaping to the Settlement — order of troops to our relief
and their recall to meet the Mexicans — the scene at the
fort on my return with fourteen men.
On the 19th day of May, 1836, Parker's Fort, under my
command, was captured by a band of the Comanche and other
tribes of Indians, under the following circumstances. A few
days previous to the day above named, I had disbanded the troops
under my command, as there appeared to be but little danger of
an attack, and the Government was not in a condition to bear
the expense of supporting troops, unless the circumstances were
of such a nature as to imperiously demand it. On the morning
of the day before mentioned, myself, two of my sons-in-law, and
my oldest son, had repaired to the farm, a short distance from the
fort, to finish laying by our crop of corn ; leaving in the fort, my
father, (Elder John Parker,) my two brothers, Benjamin and
Silas, and family, my wife and six children, including Mrs.
Plummer, whose narrative is annexed to this book, Mrs. Nixon,
my mother-in-law, Mrs. Duty, Mr. Frost and family, my sister-
in-law, Mrs. Kellogg, Mr. Dwight and his family; making in
all thirty-four, eighteen of whom were children. About an hour
after I left the fort, a band of Indians approached it, bearing a
white flag; and when my brother Benjamin went out to meet
them, he was told their object was peace, and that they had
come to make a treaty with the whites. This treacherous ruse
was too successful. It threw those in the fort so much off
their guard that it was not until the enemy had almost entirely
surrounded them and had manifested their hostile intentions by
killing my brother Benjamin, who was in their hands, that any
attempt was made either to resist or escape.*
Before this, however, my daughter, Mrs. Nixon, becoming
alarmed, had left the fort, and ran to the field to alarm us. Be-
fore she reached us we heard her screams, and ran immediately
* The reader is referred to the appended narrative of Rachel Plummer,
for particulars of what then occurred.
to meet her. She, in -most breathless anxiety, informed us of
what was going on at the fort, and we all immediately started
for the fort. We had not proceeded more than a few hundred
yards before we met my wife and children, who confirmed what
my daughter had told us. It was immediately agreed upon by
us that I should take my wife and children to a place of con-
cealment, that Mr. Plummer should proceed to alarm some
neighbors about half a mile off, and that Mr. Nixon should go
on to the fort. I proceeded to place my family in a place of
safety, which I did by directing my course to the river Navisott,
about half a mile distant, which I succeeded in crossing with
my wife and children. Having placed them where I thought
they would be safe, I retraced my steps for the purpose of reach-
ing the fort as soon as possible. On re-crossing the river, I met
Mrs. Frost and her family, in the care of Mr. Dwight, who had
also escaped from the fort, and Mr. Dwight informed .me that he
had been overtaken by Mr. Nixon, who informed him that he
had been to the fort, and that all was lost ; either killed or taken
prisoners! As Mr. Nixon approached the fort, he discovered a
company of Indians who were dragging off my brother Silas'
wife and children, four in number, as prisoners. With a bravery
scarcely paralleled in any warfare, he drew his gun to his shoul-
der and rushed upon the enemy, some forty or fifty in number,
and although he did not fire, (which under the circumstances
would have been not only useless but very hazardous,) succeeded
by his daring boldness and determined appearance, in effecting
the rescue of the mother and two of her children ; while the In-
dians succeeded in carrying off the other two children, one of
whom is yet a prisoner among them, and whose release I hope,
in the Providence of God, to be able to effect, by the means this
humble narrative may place in my hands.
My father, mother-in-law, and Mrs. Kellogg, my sister-in-
law, made their escape from the fort, and had proceeded about
three-fourths of a mile, when they were overtaken by the enemy
and stripped of their clothing, and the two first named were
murdered — my father being shot through with an arrow, and
scalped — my mother-in-law being stabbed with a knife, and left
as dead ; while my sister-in-law, Mrs. Kellogg, was taken off as a
prisoner. Mr. Frost and his son Robert were slain in the fort,
from whence was taken Mrs. Plummer and her child, about 18
months old, as prisoners. Thus were five slain, one badly
wounded, and five taken prisoners, and twenty-three made their
Mr. Plummer having succeeded in alarming the neighbors,
he, in company with some fifteen others, returned to the fort just
as the Indians, after having stripped it of every thing, destroyed
the cattle, and secured the horses, were leaving it. The Indians
being seven or eight hundred strong, they did not attack or at-
tempt to follow them; but retreated to the woods, where they
concealed themselves until the next day, when they proceeded to
another settlement about sixty miles east of the fort, near F^ro
Mr. Nixon, after having gallantly released the prisoners, as
mentioned, and having placed them in the care of Mr. Plummer
and his company, turned his attention to myself and those with
me. In passing through the river bottom, we often came to
sandy places where we could be tracked. If there was necessity
for flight, I thougnt there was also necessity for precaution, and
accordingly when I came to those sandy places, I made all the
company pass over them by walking backwards, in order that
our tracks would present the appearance of our having gone in a
contrary direction from the one we were pursuing, and thus de-
ceive the Indians, should they attempt to follow our trail. This
ruse deceived Mr. Nixon, who after a fruitless search of two
days to find us, gave us up, supposing that we also had fallen
into the hands of the savages. Whilst he was thus wandering
about, undetermined what to do, he accidentally found Mrs. Duty,
who had been stabbed in the right breast with a large knife,
which did not enter the chest, but passed off near her ribs. He
was passing near her after dark and heard her groans, and on
approaching her, found her in a dying and most pitiable condi-
tion. It had been twelve or fourteen hours since she was stabbed,
and faint with the loss of blood, stripped of every vestige of
clothing, she lay mangled and bleeding on the cold ground, in a
dark and howling wilderness, while her life-blood was fast ebbing
from her wound. He at first attempted to remove her, but she
fainted in his arms ; and his only means of reviving her, was by
bringing water to her in his shoe. This he repeated several times,
and finally, after great exertion, succeeded in getting her to a
neighboring house, though it was deserted. Before the morning,
he succeeded in finding the company raised by Mr. Plummer,
when all the attention was rendered her their situation afforded,
and her wounds dressed. She was taken along by the company
that went to the settlement near Fort Houston, where she re-
covered, but has subsequently died.
Mr. Plummer, in searching for his wife and child, was sepa-
rated from this company, and wandered through the country, and
finally made his way to Tinning's settlement, on the Navasott,
which he reached soon after my arrival there.
I must, however, ask the reader to go back and accompany
myself, my family, Mrs. Frost and her family, and Mr. Dwight
and his family, making in all 18 persons, from the time we cross-
ed the Navasott, near Fort Parker, until we reached this settle-
ment, a distance of 90 miles, the way we were compelled to
I must leave it to the mind of the reader to conjecture, if it
can, for it is beyond the ability of my pen to describe the feel-
ings that filled the breasts of myself and my almost helpless com-
panions in sorrow and suffering. There we were in the howling
wilderness, barefooted and bareheaded — a savage and relentless
foe on the one hand; on the other, a trackless and uninhabited
country literally covered with venomous reptiles and ravenous
beasts — destitute of one mouthful of food, and the means of pro-
curing it — our fathers, mothers, and children, having all, except
those composing our company, just fallen a prey, as we supposed,
to savage barbarity; and fearfully expecting at every step to
share their fate ourselves — all, all rushed upon our minds like a
blighting sirocco — it made the soul sick — despair seized upon the
heart, and reason well-nigh deserted her throne.
I have stated that our company consisted of 18 persons. Of
this number, 12 were children from 1 to 12 years of age. I de-
sired, after night had come on, to return to the fort, to see if I
could procure some food and information of what had become of
those who were with us — whether they were slain, or had made
their escape — but my companions said they would rather risk
starving than I should leave them, fearing I would fall into the
hands of the enemy, in which event, they knew they would perish
in the wilderness, as they were all alike ignorant of the course
to pursue to reach a settlement, and of the proper precaution to
avoid falling into the hands of the enemy. I therefore deter-
mined to start for the settlement.
As it was prudent that we should travel at night and remain
concealed in the day, I directed the women and children to con-
ceal themselves in the briars, and I climbed a tall tree, by which
I was enabled to recnnoitre the fort. All was silent as death.
I in vain strained my eyes to see some living object, and listened
to hear some human voice about the fort. Descending from the
tree, I took one of my children on my shoulder, and led another ;
the other grown persons followed my example, and we started
through the thickly entangled briars and underbush in the
direction of the settlement. My wife was in very delicate health.
Mrs. Frost's grief at the loss of her husband and son was incon-
solable; and all being barefooted, except my wife and Mrs.
Frost, our progress was very slow. Many of the children had
nothing on but a shirt ; and their sufferings from the briars tear-
ing their flesh and wounding their feet, was almost beyond
We traveled until about three o'clock in the morning, when
the women and children being worn out by fatigue and hunger,
we lay down upon the grass and slept until the dawn of day,
when we again resumed our weary journey. Here we left the
river bottom, in order to avoid the briars; but from the many
tracks of Indians and horses on the high lands, it was evident
that the Indians were hunting us ; and like the fox in the fable,
we were again compelled to take to the river bottom ; for though
the brambles did indeed tear our flesh, yet they preserved our
lives from danger. Repeatedly, yes, in some places, every few
steps, did I see the briars tear the legs of the little children until
the blood trickled down so that they could have been tracked
It was now the night of the second day, and all, especially
the children and the women giving suck, began to suffer intense-
ly with hunger. We were now immediately on the bank of the
river, and through the mercy of Providence, a skunk (or pole-
cat,) came in our way. I immediately pursued it, and after much
trouble, I succeeded in catching it as it jumped into the river;
and the only way I could kill it, was by holding it under the
water until it was drowned. Having fortunately brought with
us the means for striking fire, we soon had it cooked and equally
divided amongst our company; and the portion to each was
small, indeed. This was all we had to eat until the fourth day
in the evening, when we were so fortunate as to capture another
skunk and two small terrapins, which were also cooked and
The fifth day, in the evening, I found that the women and
children were too much exhausted from hunger and fatigue, and
their feet so sore, that it was impossible for them to travel any
farther. After holding a consultation, it was agreed upon that I
should go on to the settlement, it being now about 35 miles dis-
tant, and that Mr. Wright should remain with the company.
Accordingly, the next morning, I started for the settlement,
which I reached early in the afternoon.
I have often looked back and been astonished at this extraor-
dinary feat. In the last six days I had not eaten one mouthful
of food, (for while the others had partaken of the animals before
mentioned, I had given my share to the children,) and yet I
walked thirty-five miles in about eight hours. But the thought
of the unfortunate sufferers I had left behind instilled in me that
strength and perseverance known only to those who may have
been placed in a similar situation. God, in his bountiful mercy,
strengthened and upheld me in this trying hour of need, and to
Him do I most humbly give all the praise and glory.
The first house I met with was Capt. Carter's, who received
me kindly, and promptly offered me all the aid in his power.
He soon had five horses prepared, and himself and Jeremiah
Courtney accompanied me to meet our little company of suffer-
ers. Just at dark, we met them, and placing the women and
children upon the horses, we arrived at Capt. Carter's about mid-
night. Here we received all that kind attention and relief which
our wretched condition demanded, and that benevolent and sym-
pathetic hearts could bestow.
We arrived at Capt. Carter's on the 25th of May. On the
following day, my son-in-law, Mr. Plummer, arrived there also;
he having given us up as lost, and started for the same settlement
at which we arrived.
On the 27th, I started an express to the officers of the Gov-
ernment for assistance. Maj. John W. Moody bore the express,
and five hundred troops were promptly ordered to our re'ief.
These troops had proceeded as far as Washington, when they re-
ceived the intelligence that the defeated army of Santa Anna
was returning upon the western frontier,* and they were ordered
to meet them. Thus was my design of returning immediately
to the fort, and of pursuing the Indians and releasing the prison-
ers, frustrated. To go alone was useless, and to raise a com-
pany was impossible, as every person capable of serving was
already in the Texas army.
By this time, my other son-in-law, Nixon, having arrived
safely at the settlement of Fort Houston, about 150 miles distant
* This, however, turned out to be untrue.
from where we were, whither he had conducted those who had
made their escape, among whom was Mrs. Duty, who was now
fast recovering from her wound. Hearing that we had arrived at
Capt. Carter's, he came to us; and from him we learned the
particulars, as to the number killed and taken prisoners. This
was the first certain intelligence Mrs. Frost had of the death of
her husband and son.
Thinking that my family would not be entirely safe from the
Indians in a situation so far out on the frontier as the residence
of Capt. Carter, I removed them farther back into the interior,
in Grimes' Settlement.* Here I procured a house, or, rather, a
part of one, for there was another family living in it. The house
was small, and had nothing but a dirt floor. I was entirely with-
out money, or any means of procuring the necessities, much less,
the comforts of life. Nor were they to be procured if I had
the means, for they were not in that section of the country, so,
making a virtue of necessity, I made the best arrangements I
was able for the comfort of my family, preparatory to returning
to the fort. I made a kind of scaffold in one corner of the cabin
by driving four forks into the ground, across which, I laid
some slab boards; upon these boards, was laid some straw,
which was to serve as a bed.
Just as I had completed my arrangement for starting back to
the fort, all of my family were taken sick with the measles ; but,
leaving them" to the charity of the neighbors and to the mercy of
Providence, I set off, accompanied by thirteen others. On our
arrival at the fort, on the 19th of June — exactly one month
from the time we left — we found the houses still standing, but
the crops were entirely destroyed, the horses stolen, nearly all
the cattle killed, and not a single article of household furniture
We remained at the fort three days; during which time, I
was enabled to gather the bones of my father and two brothers,
and those of Mr. Frost and his son ; their flesh having been de-
voured by wild beasts.
We made a rough box, into which we deposited their re-
mains, (except those of my youngest brother, which I preserved,
as he and I had entered into an agreement, that whichever sur-
vived, should see that his brother's body was not buried,) and
having dug a grave, they were buried. As I assisted in perform-
* To the Hon. Judge Grimes, A. Montgomery, and others, I shall ever
feel grateful for their kindness to my distressed family.
ing this last sad service to their remains, I, in the bitter anguish
of my soul, exclaimed, "rest my father and rest my brothers —
rest — would to God I were with you."
Finding that we could make no discoveries as to the route the
Indians had taken with the prisoners, we determined to return to
the settlement; so gathering as many of our cattle as we could
find, we started back. On my arrival in the neighborhood of
my family, I met Dr. Adams, who was attending my wife. He
informed me that my wife, as he thought, must die. As if it
were revealed from heaven, I felt she would not die; and so
I told the doctor, asking him, at the same time, the privilege of
using his medicines, which he freely granted. I was confident
that my wife's disease was as much of the mind as of the body,
and directed my course accordingly. On my coming in the
presence of my wife, I was horror-stricken. There she lay on a
pallet of straw literally reduced to skin and bones ; she was en-
tirely bereft of reason, and appeared to have lost all sense of
pain. Oh God ! how my soul was pierced when she gazed upon
me with her ghastly eyes ! By her side lay my youngest child,
having more the appearance of a corpse than a living being.
Breathing a prayer to God for his merciful intercession, I applied
the medicines as my best judgment dictated, and after seven days
of unceasing watching and painful suspense, I was made to re-
joice, through the mercy of God, in beholding my wife again re-
stored to reason, and evidently convalescent. She finally re-
covered, as also did my child.
My removal to my present residence — my visits to Gen. Houston
and other influential gentlemen, to endeavor to create
feelings so far in my behalf, as to afford me some help
in effecting the release of the prisoners — my sister-in-law,
Mrs. Kellogg, purchased by some Delaware Indians and
brough in — a condensed account of several trips made my-
self and others through the Indian nations, seeking the
Soon after the recovery of my family, I removed to Jessy
Parker's, about 50 miles distant. And here I must express the
grateful feelings I shall ever entertain for the kindnesses extend-
ed to myself and family by this most generous hearted man, who
though of the same name, but no way related to me, yet the
many favors he bestowed on us, proved his whole-souled gen-
erosity and Christian feeling. In the neighborhood of Mr. Parker
I purchased a tract of land of Benson Risinghoover, upon which
I built me a temporary camp; and having fixed my family as
comfortably as I could, on the 11th of July I started to see Gen.
All I desired, was, that he should grant me a company of
men. On my arrival at Col. Sublett's, near San Augustine,
where Gen. Houston was confined at the time, from the wound
he received at the battle of San Jacinto; and having laid my
plans before him for retaking the prisoners, he decided against
it, and insisted that a treaty with the Indians would be the most
effective and expeditious means of releasing the prisoners. I
contended that such a thing as a treaty being formed with hos-
tile Indians until they were whipped, and well whipped, had
never been known ; and the more thorough the chastisement, the
more lasting the treaty. All argument failed, however, and with
a heavy heart and perplexed mind, I retraced my steps to the
humble abode of my afflicted family. I then thought that Gen.
Houston betrayed too great an indifference to the matter ; though
this impression, no doubt, grew out of the great anxiety felt on
I arrived at home on the 12th of August, and on the 13th,
I went to see Col. Nathaniel Robbins, to enlist his influence
in our behalf. He accompanied me to Nacogdoches, whence
Gen. Houston had gone; and we again endeavored to persuade
him to order an expedition against the Comanches; but with no
Feeling that Gen. Houston might think that we were seeking
the glory of the expedition, which would, if gotten up, be
among his divisions, we informed him that we did not desire the
honors, but preferred taking our stations in the ranks. The
general, however, was inexorable, and still insisted upon the
advisability of a treaty.
Col. Robbins, as much chagrined at our want of success as
myself, returned home — and here I must remark of this good
man, who now sleeps with his fathers, that for nobleness of soul,
true philanthropy, and high-toned gentlemanly deportment, his
equal were few, and superiors he had none.
I then determined to visit Col. Richard Sparks, with the
plan in view, that had induced me to call on Col. Robbins;
however, it did no good, and I returned again to Nacogdoches,
where I arrived on the 20th of August. Here I was rejoiced to
meet with my sister-in-law, Mrs. Kellogg, who had been pur-
chased by some Delaware Indians, and brought in. The consid-
eration claimed by the Indians for their services, was $150,
which Gen. Houston generously paid, as I was penniless.
I immediately started, with Mrs. Kellogg, accompanied by
Mr. Milligan and several other gentlemen, for home, a distance of
140 miles. On the 22nd, we fell in with a Mr. Smith, who had
just discovered two Indians stealing horses. He had shot one a
few hundred yards from the road, and we turned off to see the
dead Indian. On reaching the spot where he lay, we found that
Mr. Smith had partially missed his aim, for the ball had merely
grazed his forehead. Mrs. Kellogg immediately recognized the
Indian, as not only being one of the band that had captured
Fort Parker, but the very one that had shot and scalped my
father ; in confirmation of which, she said, if he was the same,
he had a scar on each arm, as if cut with a knife. I immedi-
ately examined him, and found, with mingled feelings of joy,
sorrow, and revenge, the scars as described : — joy at the oppor-
tunity of avenging the butchery of my father, and sorrow at the
recollection of it. The Indian hearing a familiar female voice,
raised his head, and gazing with looks of surprise and doubt
upon Mrs. Kellogg, he at length appeared to recognize her, and
muttering something I did not understand, fell back, pretending
to be dead. He had left her a prisoner in his town, when he
and several others of his tribe started on this trip of murder and
plunder — hence, his marked surprise on seeing her at liberty
and with her friends. What followed, it is unnecessary to re-
late — suffice it to say, that it was the unanimous verdict of
the company, that he would never kill and scalp another white
On the 6th of September, we arrived at home, joyous
was the meeting of my wife and her sister. Mrs. Kellogg could
give us no intelligence of any of the other prisoners, as the party
of Indians that captured the Fort, dispersed in a few days after
— the Ketchaws taking her, one tribe of the Comanches taking
my daughter and her child, and another tribe of the same nation,
taking my nephew and niece, the children of my brother Silas.
After much consideration and consultation with my friends
as to the best course to pursue, I determined to go to Coffee's
trading house on Red River, about 700 miles distant, to see if I
could hear any thing of the prisoners, or make any arrangements
to have them purchased and brought in.
Accordingly, on the 15th of September, I started, and on the
27th, arrived at Jonesborough, on Red River, where I was
treated with much kindness by Maj L. W. Tinnin, Col. John
Fowler, and many others. The gentlemen named, offered to
loan me money; but as I had no use for money where I was
going, I declined accepting it. To Mr. Johnson, of that place,
I am indebted for many kindnesses, for which I offered him a
remuneration, but he would not accept it. My horse having
given out, I left him at Mr. Johnson's, of whom I purchased an-
other, and proceeded on to Coffee's establishment.
On the 2nd day of October, I heard that a woman had been
brought in to Capt. Pace's, on Blue River, who I thought, from
the description, was my daughter. I immediately determined to
go to Pace's, distant about 80 miles, the way I was compelled
to travel. Not being able to get my horse across Red River, I
left him with Mr. Fitzgerald, with directions, that should I not
return to his house within ten days, he should let my family
know that I was dead, as I had determined to return within that
time, if alive. Having, with the assistance of Mr. Stewart,
made a raft, I crossed Red River. I could obtain no reliable in-
formation as to the course I should pursue, and there being no
road, or even trace, I directed my course according to the best
information I could obtain. Mrs. Fitzgerald had furnished me
with some meat and bread, which I lost before I had gone far, as
I had great difficulty in passing through the swamps and thickets
of the river bottom. I had prepared myself with a pocket com-
pass by which I was enabled to direct my course. I walked
as far as I could the first day, and at night found myself on a
prairie. Being much fatigued I lay down upon the grass
to sleep — but the thought that I was so near my child,
it drove sleep from my eyes. I would sometimes doze for a few
moments, but would soon arouse with an effort to embrace the
object of my care and pursuit. I would have travelled all night,
but I could not see the points of my compass, and the night be-
ing cloudy, I could not have kept my course.
The next morning, I started as soon as it was light enough to
see my compass, and notwithstanding my feet were blistered and
I had recovered but little from my fatigue of the previous day,
I must have traveled forty miles before dark. At night, being
yet on this prairie, and the ground being wet, I found it would
be impossible to sleep without fire ; so having found a few scrub-
by saplings, I broke off some brush and kindled a fire. It now
commenced thundering and threatened a storm, which soon came
on. The rain fell in torrents whilst the almost unceasing flashes
of lightning and deafening thunder, made me feel, in my lonely
condition, as if "the war of elements, the wreck of matter, and
the crush of worlds," was about to be consummated.
By the flashes of lightning, I could see far around me, and
the prairie presented the appearance of one unbroken sheet of
water. Where I stood, the water was at least two feet deep.
I had two small pistols, which I kept dry by wrapping my shirt
around them and placing one under each arm. To this timely
precaution, I undoubtedly owe the preservation of my life. About
two o'clock in the morning, the wind changed to the North, and
in less than one hour my clothes were frozen upon me, and I felt
that I could not live until morning. Though unable to direct my
course in the dark, I was compelled to keep in motion, or freeze
to death, so I promenaded a space of forty or fifty yards, in the
water a foot deep, until morning. During this time the snow
fell fast, but melted as it fell.
As soon as it was light I pursued my journey, with little hope
of being alive at night, or ever again beholding the face of a
human being. About 9 o'clock, I saw a body of timber to the
Southeast, whither I directed my steps. My progress was very
slow and difficult, as the grass being about two feet high, was
matted together by the ice. On reaching the woods, I seated my-
self upon a log to rest. I had sat there but a few minutes when
I found it very difficult to keep from going to sleep. This was
produced by the extreme cold; my feet and hands had lost all
sense of pain, and I knew I was fast freezing to death. I at-
tempted to rise, but could not. There was a small tree withm
my reach, and taking hold of it I succeeded in rising to my feet.
In the short time I had been still, my limbs had become so stif-
fened, that I could not walk. I was afraid to let go the tree, for
fear I should fall, in which case I knew I should never rise.
It is impossible for the mind to form any just conception of
my feelings at this time. I have often attempted to call to mind
how I felt, but in vain ; it appears like a dream, and often, when
reflecting on the event, I almost doubt its reality.
To remain stationary was certain death — so there was but
one alternative left — move I must. There was an old dry log
about fifty yards from me, and my life depended on my being able
to reach it and strike a fire. Letting go the tree I ventured on
this hazardous experiment, and moving my feet but a few inches
at first, I succeeded, after much exertion of nearly an hour, in
gaining the log. Having cut some dry pieces of cotton from my
shirt, and loaded one of my pistols with them, I discharged it
against a dry part of the log. My agonizing fears and suspense
were soon relieved by the success of this effort to start a fire, and
soon my frozen clothing began to yield to the influence of the
heat, and it was not long before my sense of pain returned.
The pain I had suffered from cold, during the last twelve
hours, was, I thought, as great as the human system could en-
dure; but it was comparatively nothing to that I felt in getting
warm. Had my hands and feet been held in the fire until con-
sumed, the pain certainly could not have been greater. When
entirely restored to a proper warmth, my hands and feet stung
and smarted as if they had been burned, and the skin peeled off
Three days had now elapsed since I had tasted food, and it
required the exercise of all the fortitude and courage I was
master of to keep me from sinking down with fatigue and
hunger. The hope of soon seeing my lost child, added a new
vigor to my body, and summoning all my remaining strength I
pursued my journey.
I had not proceeded far, before night came on, and having
made a good fire, I sunk down upon the cold, damp ground, to
rest. My fatigue acted as an opiate, and I soon yielded myself
to the arms of Morpheus, with but little hopes of ever again
awaking in this world. I slept soundly all night; and although
my fire had gone out, and my clothes were frozen to the ground,
my hair a mat of ice, and my limbs benumbed, God, in His
merciful preservation, enabled me to rise and rekindle the fire.
After my clothes were thawed and partially dried, my limbs
again became controllable, and I pursued my journey. I could
not tell whether I had passed Mr. Pace's or not ; but to attempt
to return to the settlement I had left, would be vain; so, exer-
cising my best judgment, I directed my course, with scarcely a
hope of surviving until night. I suppose I traveled that day
about fifteen miles. The sun was now setting, and I almost
hoped I would not live to see it rise. Darkness came on apace;
and oh, how horrible was the thought of having to spend another
night in the wild wilderness, eight hundred miles from home,
with the frozen ground for a bed, and the blue dome of heaven
my only shelter. As these thoughts were revolving in my
mind, I heard a calf bleat — and the songs of angels could
not have been sweeter to my ear, or more charming to my soul,
than was the bleat of that calf. With an energy that astonished
me, I pushed on in the direction from whence the sound came;
and just at dark a grateful heart to God for his wonderful
mercies, I found myself seated in Pace's house, by a comfortable
fire ; while his kind wife was preparing me a cup of coffee.
My joy at the escape I had made from a miserable death in
the wilderness, was, however, soon turned to mortification and
sorrow, for I learned that the woman that had been brought in
was not my daughter, but a Mrs. Yorkins. She had gone on to
Samuel B. Marshall's, and I did not get to see her.
At Pace's however, I met with some of Coffee's traders, who
gave me direct intelligence of my daughter. They informed
me that she was in charge of a band of Indians, who, they said,
were then encamped about 60 miles from Mr. Pace's. They
also informed me that the Indians had killed my daughter's child.
The intelligence kindled anew the flame that was raging in my
breast ; and I immediately determined to go to the camp of the
Indians, and at the risk of my life, recover my daughter.
I remained at Pace's two nights and one day, during which
time, I received all the attention and kindness he an'd his family
could bestow, for which I shall ever feel grateful.
On the morning of my departure from Mr. Pace's, his kind
lady prepared me some bread and venison to take with me, though
it was not more than enough to last one day. In very little better
condition than when I arrived at Mr. Pace's, I directed my course
to the Indian camp, which I did not reach until the fourth day in
the afternoon. The Indians, I found, had left there just after the
heavy rain before spoken of As I could nov: follow them by
their trail, I started on, and on the 6th day, I arrived at Red
River. The Indians had crossed the river, and as I knew that
in my enfeebled condition I could not swim it, and there being
no timber near with which I could make a raft, I was compelled
to retrace my steps.
On turning homeward and contemplating my situation, I felt
as certain as that I was then alive, that I should never again see
home. Faint with hunger and fatigue, and all hopes of ever
again seeing my unfortunate daughter, being, as I thought, cut
off, I resigned myself to my fate. I looked down the river and
saw some timber, and feeling that I would rather die among the
trees than in an open prairie, thither I directed my steps; and
just as the sun was setting, I reached the spot which I never ex-
pected to leave. I pray God that when the final hour does come,
and He shall call me hence, that I may feel as willing to obey
as I did then.
I had been seated on a log in these woods but a few minutes,
when I heard a rustling in the leaves; and on looking round, I
saw a skunk near me ; and at the same moment I saw it, I felt
that the kind protecting care of Providence was yet around, and
I was firmly convinced in my mind that I should again see
my family, as I had been a few moments before persuaded that
I should not.
Inscrutable, indeed, are the ways of Providence! Often,
when we have the least occasion to fear death, we are stricken
down without a moment's warning; whilst, on the other hand,
when we have no reason to hope for life, and sincerely pray for
death, the hand of the all-wise and merciful God is stretched
forth, and we are plucked from the cold embrace of the "King
of Terrors," as a "brand from the burning !"
I speedily despatched the skunk, and soon had a part of it
broiling on the fire; and though I ate but a small portion that
night, it strengthened and revived me so much, that the next
morning I set about making a raft. This was the first food I
had tasted in the last six days.
The reader doubtless thinks it strange that I had not a gun
with me on such a tour. I neglected to mention, that when I
arrived at Mr. Tinnie's, soon after I had started on this journey,
he proposed to go and engage some Shawnee Indians to go in
search of the prisoners, and required the loan of my gun. I
let him have it, and he did not return before I left, so I went
on without it. *
Having burned some logs that lay near the river, into several
pieces, I soon tied them together with bark and grape vines.
Upon this raft I descended Red River, to Mr. Fitzgerald's, where
I arrived on the 22nd, after an absence of twenty days. Mr.
Fitzgerald had not written to my family, as I directed, not having
met with an opportunity of sending the letter.
Considering all efforts to regain my daughter, fruitless, my
duty to my family required my immediate return home, which I
reached on the 17th day of November.
Congress being now in session, at Columbia, I determined to
go there and petition that body for some assistance. But a
treaty was urged as the best and only means of effecting the
release of the prisoners, and I was doomed again to return home
in sorrowful hopelessness.
Having firmly determined never to cease my efforts to facili-
tate the release of the prisoners, I concluded to visit Gen. T. J.
Rusk and Maj. J. W. Burton, and try to enlist them in my
cause. I found them both willing to render me all the assist-
ance in their power ; but they could do nothing. I again went to
see Col. R. Sparks, but to no effect.
I now determined to return to Red River, and see what could
be done; and taking leave of my family on the 25th day of
February, 1837, I started on this, my second tour, among the
Indians. I arrived at Natchitoches on the 7th of March, where
I received many kindnesses from Mr. Joseph S. March, Mr.
Clark, near Spanish Town, and others. Here I offered a reward
of $300 for every prisoner then among the Indians that might
be brought in ; and to Mr. D. P. Despelier, I am under obligations
for the gratuitous insertion of the advertisement in his paper.
On the 10th, I left Natchitoches for Monroe, to endeavor to
collect some money due me, in order to pay the offered rewards,
if needed. The waters being very high, and having many
streams to cross, my progress was very slow and disagreeable,
which was greatly increased by an unceasing toothache, with
which I suffered nearly the whole way. On the 19th. I lost my
pocket-book, and had to return a distance of twenty miles before
I found it. I arrived at Monroe on the 20th, where I succeeded
in collecting a small sum of money, and where I remained until
the 29th, when I left for Red River. I cannot but mention
the kindness extended to me by Mr. A. Ludwig and his kind
lady, at whose house I stayed four nights.
On the 2nd of April, I arrived at Capt. Finn's on the lost
prairie on Red River. From here I went to Marshall's trading
house, on Blue River. I succeeded in securing Mr. Marshall's
efforts in my behalf, and I purchased his stock of goods, as alsp
the goods of Messrs. Colwell & Wallace, amounting in all to
about $1000, with which they agreed to go on to try and pur-
chase the prisoners.
Leaving Mr. Marshall's, I returned to Smith's trading house,
and succeeded in securing his goods, subject to my order, pro-
vided I should need them in purchasing the prisoners' freedom.
Here I met with a Shawnee Indian, from whom I learned that a
white woman had been purchased by Mr. Sprawling, one of Mr.
Marshall's traders. I immediately returned to Marshall's, who,
having heard the same news, had started out the day before my
arrival, and had left for me the following note :
"My Friend, James W. Parker,
Sir: — Having received good news, I start
after the prisoner tomorrow morning. Mr. Sprawling has pur-
chased a woman ; I hope it is your daughter. Keep yourself here.
The Comanches are now at Coffee's. You must stay here until
I come back, and if God spares my life I will have the prison-
ers. I lu,ve got three Indians engage*] at two dollars per day.
For God Almighty's sake stay here until I come back, and see
what can be done.
In haste, your friend,
SAMUEL B. MASHALL.
It will be discovered by Marshall's note, that he was extreme-
ly anxious that I should -remain: -at his trading house until his
return. This grew- o'u i of his dears' tha't I would venture among
the Indians, in which" event he knew I 'would be killed. Under
these circumstances, who of my readers that ever felt in his
breast the pure and' -holy vibrations of paternal love, could have
commanded himself -Iri obedience lo the more cautious and calm
requirements of one, who thcugh he' might feel all the interest
benevolence and philanthropy could prompt, yet felt compara-
tively nothing. Can it be supposed then that I obeyed his
directions? I did not; for I immediately started for the traders'
camp, where I supposed my daughter was. When I arrived at
the camp, I was chagrined to learn that the woman was not my
daughter. I remained with the traders several days, exerting
every means to regain my child, but to no effect.
It was now the 21st of April, and having lost all hope of re-
gaining my daughter by the plan I had laid, I determined to go
among the Indians and reconnoitre their camps, with the hopes
of seeing her, and by stealth effecting her release. With this
view, I prepared myself with a good rifle, four pistols and a
bowie knife, a sufficient quantity of ammunition, and pen, ink
and paper. I would remark, that, knowing it was the custom of
the Indians to make their prisoners carry all the water, and
knowing that they never encamped but on the bank of a river or
creek, my plan was, after discovering their encampment, to keep
myself concealed until dark, and then while they were dancing,
as is their custom every night after dark, to creep to the point
from whence they procured their water, and having written notes
directing any American into whose hands they might fall, where
to come to me, to place them in positions where they would be
likely to be found, and after doing this, to return to my hiding
place. In this way, I hoped to get a note in to the hands of my
daughter, and thus effect her release.
I accordingly started in company with one of the men belong-
ing to a trading house, and we directed our course for the camps
of the Comanches. On the 24th, having stopped for the night
and hobbled our horses, we lay down, but we very soon found
that we were among the Indians, and that they were trying to
steal our horses. I immediately sprang to my feet, and I dis-
covered an Indian not more than ten feet from me. I shot him
with my rifle and fired at another with my pistol. He imme-
diately ran off, and we, mounting our horses, followed his
We rode all night. The next' day at ten o'clock, we came
upon a company of Indian's in ambtish. 4 We* did not know that
they were near us until 'the crack of their rifles and the stinging
of my left ear an'd cheek from the graze of a 'ball, announced
our perilous situation*. 'As quick as thought} 1 had my trusty
rifle to my shoulder, and s'eemga ve'ry large Indian a few yards
to my left, with his empty rifle* yet'to his face, I fired. He made
no effort to rise, and my attention being directed to another spot,
I saw another Indian preparing to fire a second time. I drew
one of my pistols and fired it. He appeared to come to the con-
elusion not to fire a second time, for he immediately laid down
as if to take some rest. My companion during this time had
induced the third Indian to forego a second fire ; and having no
further business to transact at that particular spot, and hearing a
short distance off a yell as if all the demons of hell were around
us, we left, without taking time to wish our three friends in am-
bush a comfortable rest and pleasant dreams. Nor did we wait
to select our course; but, urging our faithful horses to do their
duty, we soon left our pursuers far behind.
On the 26th, my companion left me and started for the trad-
ing house. I swam the Ouachita, or Cash Fork of Red River, and
left my horse, finding that I could proceed on foot with less
danger than on horseback. I then swam Red River and found
I reconnoitred them until the second of June, practising all
the plans I had arranged without being able to make any dis-
coveries. Being now almost exhausted, having reconnoitred the
Indians more than a month, during which time I had gone with-
out food as long as six days at one time, and often four or five
days, I determined to return home. It is probably necessary to
remark, that when I did eat any thing, I had to go a sufficient
distance from the Indians to prevent them from hearing the re-
port of my gun whenever I shot a buffalo. Sometimes, when
the Indians moved, I would wait until they had proceeded some
eight or ten miles, and then kill my game and satisfy my hunger.
The limits to which I have prescribed this narrative prevent
me from relating many interesting incidents that occurred in this
and the other tours I made in search of my daughter ; but I must
relate one here, and leave the reader to picture to himself many
One evening after the Indians had moved, but not to a suffi-
cient distance to be out of hearing of my gun, and being very
hungry, I shot a buffalo, and proceeded to the bank of a stream
not far off, where I kindled a fire for the purpose of broiling a
piece of meat. On returning to the buffalo, I found my right to
it disputed — not by an Indian, but by a very large white wolf,
peculiar only to this section of country. I tried to scare him
away, but he was bold and determined, and often cautioned me
not to trust too much to his good humor, by showing me the
length and condition of his long tusks. I was afraid to shoot a
second time, as the Indians doubtless heard the first report, and
were perhaps, listening to catch the sound of another.
Finding, however, that his wolfship was not to be moved by
menaces, and my hunger increasing as the opportunity of satis-
fying it was before me, I determined after a long time to risk
another fire, and accordingly gave my ungenerous companion of
the wilderness a leaden pill to work off the hearty supper he had
made on my buffalo. Luckily the Indians did not hear the report
of my gun, and after having sated my craving appetite, I lay
down and had a good night's rest.
On many other occasions when I was afraid to shoot game, I
have carried water in my hat a considerable distance to drown
out the prairie dogs from their burrows, and in this way procured
the food that kept me from starving.
Having returned to the Cash Forks of Red River, and pro-
cured my horse, I returned home, after an absence of five months.
On the 19th of June, I arrived at the city of Houston, and on the
same day Gen Houston gave me the commission of the Com-
mander-in-Chief of a military company, to be denominated the
"Independent Volunteers of Texas," without limit as to num-
It now being evident that the Indians would not enter into a
treaty, President Houston had at last agreed to order an expe-
dition against them ; and I, as above stated, having been honored
with the command of the expedition, immediately set about
raising a company of volunteers for that purpose.
/ raise a company — the false impressions made on Gen. Hous-
ton's mind as to my intentions — / receive orders from Gen.
Houston to abandon the Expedition against the Indians, and
to disband my troops — an account of similar tours to those
spoken of in the previous chapter, among the Indians.
My brother, Nathaniel Parker, of Charleston, 111., then and
now a member of the Senate of that State, had arrived in Texas ;
and assisted by him and my brother Joseph, I soon succeeded
in raising a company of as brave men as that young republic
could boast. My arrangements were fast being matured for an
effective expedition against the Indians, when to my great
surprise and mortification, I received orders from Gen. Houston
to abandon the expedition and to disband the company I had
partly raised ! It appears that he was induced to do this by the
misrepresentations of some evil disposed persons. He had been
made to believe that I premeditated an attack upon some friendly
and well-disposed Indian tribes near the frontier of Texas;
which was entirely destitute of truth, as the testimony of Col.
Jos. Williams, Daniel Montague, N. Parker, Majors William
Lloyd and W. T. Henderson, and many others, all worthy men,
will clearly prove.
My brother Nathaniel finding he could render me no assist-
ance, returned home to Illinois. Brother Joseph and myself
disbanded the men, but went ourselves into the Indian territory,
determined to try what we could do.
We had traveled about 500 miles, when from the excessive
heat and the want of proper food and water, we were both taken
sick and compelled to return home, where we arrived on the
31st of August.
On the 7th of September, having partially recovered from
my indisposition, I started again on another tour, with as firm a
determination never to cease my efforts until the prisoners were
released, as I had formed when I first started in pursuit of them.
This tour was a long and painful one to me, owing to the bad
state of my health ; though nothing of interest to the reader oc-
curred. Finding my indisposition increasing, I was again com-
pelled to return to my family.
After remaining at home four or five days, and my health
becoming better, I again left home on the 27th of October, and
went to see if the Indian traders whom I had engaged, had done
or learned any thing. Finding they had done nothing, nor
learned any tidings of my daughter, I pursued my course among
the Indian tribes, then on the frontier of the United States. On
arriving at an Indian town, I would stop and make inquiries for
At one of these towns I met with an Indian who had on one
of my vests. I told one of my companions that if it was my
vest, the button moulds were made of the rind of a gourd; and
to decide whether it was in truth my vest, I cut off one of the
buttons, and soon recognized it as having been made by my own
hands at Fort Parker. I interrogated the Indian as to where he
procured the vest, and he being unable to give me a definite ac-
count of it — the treacherous capture of Fort Parker — the inhu-
man butchery of my aged father and my affectionate brothers —
the galling captivity and slavish bondage of my dear child and
innocent and helpless grand-children and nieces — all, rushed
upon my mind at the same moment, and the firm belief that this
was one of the authors of all my woe, kindled in my breast feel-
ings that I leave the reader to imagine, for my pen cannot de-
scribe them. Every nerve of my system involuntarily trembled,
and I felt it was necessary that I should leave the town; so
directing my companions to start on, assuring them that I would
soon follow with all possible speed, I mounted my horse, and
taking a "last, fond look" at my vest — with one eye through
the sight of my trusty rifle — I "turned and left the spot," with
the assurance that my vest had got a new button hole!
The Indians of the town, as I passed them, appeared desirous
that I should make a longer stay, which was manifested by their
frequent attempts to catch my bridle and in other ways to arrest
my progress; but some well aimed blows with my sword soon
cleared the track, and my spirited steed quickly bore me beyond
their reach. On coming up with my companions, we pursued
our journey without further molestation.
We soon reached Sabine River, and having crossed it, enter-
ed an Indian town. The Indians at this town were drinking
whiskey very freely when we arrived, and many were intoxicat-
ed. We soon found that our safety required as short a stay here
as possible, and therefore did not alight from our horses. Just as
we were about to start, an Indian, evidently much intoxicated,
seized my bridle and drew a knife. I soon found it necessary
for my own safety, to knock him down with my rifle, in doing
which it was broken and rendered useless. Now, it was neces-
sary that we should, not only leave immediately, but flee for our
lives, as the Indians had become enraged and were rushing to
attack us. We soon left them far behind, and we pursued the
remainder of our journey homeward without molestation.
I arrived at home, from this tour, on the 28th of October.
Finding that my health was much impaired from traveling, I
started my son-in-law, (Mr. Nixon,) to see what my traders had
done. On the 30th of November at a late hour of the night, a Mr.
G. S. Parks arrived at my house, and informed me that he had
met Mr. Nixon, and that he had directed him to go on to Indepen-
dance, Missouri, where Mrs. Plummer was, she having been
brought into that place by some Santa Fe traders.
Reader, I leave you to your own conceptions of what were
my feelings on hearing this joyful news. My wife rushed eager-
ly to my side to hear the glad tidings, and so overjoyed was she
to hear that her child was yet alive, that she fell, senseless, in
my arms, whilst my little children gathered around me, all anxi-
ously inquiring: "Father, does sister Rachel still live?"
How chequered are the ways of Providence. Though my
sorrows and sufferings, for the past two years, had been greater
than it would be thought human nature could bear, the joy I felt
that night overbalanced them all, whilst I poured forth to Al-
mighty God, the humble thanks of a grateful heart for the merci-
ful deliverance of my child from a cruel bondage. How truly
does the inspired writer say, that He chasteneth when it seemeth
fit, and maketh the sorrowful heart to rejoice in due season.
On the 19th of February, Mr. Nixon and Mrs. Plummer ar-
rived at my house, and great indeed was the joy on her return to
the bosom of her friends. She presented a most pitiable appear-
ance ; her ematiated body was covered with scars, the evidences
of the savage barbarity to which she had been subject during her
She was in very bad health, and although every thing was
done to restore her, she lived but a short time to enjoy the com-
pany of her kind husband and affectionate relatives. In about
one year from the time she returned to her paternal home, she
calmly breathed out her spirit to Him who gave it, and her
friends committed her body to the silent grave.
During her protracted illness, she was seldom heard to mur-
mur at her own sufferings, past or present, which she knew
would soon end ; but her whole soul appeared continually engaged
in prayer to God for the preservation and deliverance of her
dear and only child, James Pratt, from the inhuman bondage
he was suffering. She often said that this life had no charms
for her, and that her only wish was, that she might live to see
her son restored to his friends. Although she was denied this
happiness, I rejoice to feel that her prayers were heard and an-
swered, in the deliverance of her child, as the following chapter
For a full account of her sufferings, during her captivity,
the reader is referred to her own narrative which is appended to
and closes this volunme.
/ hear of two children having been brought into the Chickasaw
Depot, which I suppose are mij grandson and nephew. I go
to see them — narrow escape from the Indians — return home
— hear of the children at Fort Gibson — go after them and
bring them home.
Having recovered my daughter, and not feeling certain that
my grandson and my brother's children were yet alive, I par-
tially ceased my exertions to regain them. I, however, let no
opportunity escape, where I thought there was the least prospect
of hearing of them. I also made a tour once a year through
the Indian country in search of them, but could hear nothing
certain about them until the first of September, 1841, when I
heard that two children had been brought into the Chickasaw
Depot, about 800 miles from my house. At this time I was very
sick with a fever ; but in hopes that I might be able to reach the
Depot, and thinking that traveling might perhaps help me, I
started. I was scarcely able to mount my mule, when I started,
yet it is no less strange than true that I traveled fifty miles the
When I got among the Indians, I found that I was in great
danger, owing to some difficulties that had taken place between
the frontier Texans and the Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes of
Indians. It was necessary, therefore, that I should pass myself
as a citizen of Arkansas, in order to pass unmolested. I suc-
ceeded in reaching the Depot on the 22nd of September. There
were many Indians at the Depot when I arrived, and to my hor-
ror I found that many of them were of the same tribe to which
the Indian belonged that had on my vest, the particulars of
which are previously related.
Maj. Jones, the chief proprietor of the Depot, I found to be a
gentleman and a friend, and to him I communicated the object of
my visit. He informed me that the children that had been
brought in were not those I was looking for, but said that his
traders knew of some children among the Comanches that no
doubt were those I was in search of. His traders were just
about starting when I arrived, and he called in two of the head
men and directed them to purchase these children at any price,
becoming himself responsible for the amount they might cost.
One of these traders, an old Delaware, with whom I was
well acquainted, took me aside and told me that I was in danger,
and pointed out an Indian in the crowd who had said I had killed
his brother. This Indian was probably a brother of the one
that had on my vest. After the traders had started, Maj. Jones
gave me the same caution that old Frank, the Delaware, had
given me, and added, that he would invite me to stay at the
Depot that night, but he knew if I stayed the Indians would steal
Soon after Maj. Jones had left me, the Indian pointed out to
me by the old trader, stepped up to me and asked, with apparent
unconcern, if I was going to leave that evening? I replied I
was. He asked me which road I was going? I told him the
Fort Towson road. He then left me, and I saw him conversing
with his companions.
Well acquainted, as I was, with the Indian character, it can-
not be supposed that I was not perfectly aware of the danger I
was in. In this case, as in all my other difficulties with the
Indians, I was not the least alarmed. I mean, I was perfectly
in possession of my presence of mind, and could control my
feelings and actions so entirely, that I was enabled to act for the
best. To remain at the Depot I knew would be inexpedient, as -
the Indians would steal my mule, and then all hopes of escape
would be cut off. So there was but one alternative left, and
that was to start home.
Soon after the Indian above spoken of, had interrogated me,
I saw him and forty or fifty others mount their mules and start
down the road I was compelled to travel. I studied a few
moments on the best course to pursue, and after they had been
gone about one hour, I started. I had observed as I came up
the Fort Towson road, a very heavy ambush about two miles
from the Depot, where I was sure these Indians intended to kill
me. The road forked about half way between the Depot and
this ambush, the right hand fork leading to Blue river. This
road I determined to take, and thus avoid the ambush. I was
entirely unarmed, and I knew that my only means of escape
was in flight. Just as I came to the forks of the road I met two
of these Indians, who had no doubt returned to watch me, and
if I had taken the Blue river road I am confident they would
have shot me; so I was compelled to go the Fort Towson road.
Soon after I met them I observed that they turned round and
followed me. I was about two hundred yards ahead of them
and was nearly in sight of the ambush, when a short turn in the
road concealed me from their view. I now turned short to the
right, and urging my mule with whip and spur, I was soon out
of sight of the road, and crossing the Blue river road, took a
straight direction through a boggy prairie. I did not slacken
my pace until I had gone seven or eight miles, but kept looking
behind to ascertain if I was pursued. I was now near a high
piece of land, that bordered on the prairie, and in order to let
my mule rest, and to ascertain whether I was pursued, I went to
the most elevated point near me, and reconnoitered the prairie as
far as I could see. I soon discovered the whole body of Indians,
about two miles behind, running directly towards me. Remount-
ing my mule, and applying whip and spur, I urged him, at full
speed, for nearly two hours. Having arrived at the foot of a
mountain, and there being no point in sight but what appeared
insurmountable, I almost despaired of escaping. As there was no
time for delay, I started to climb the mountain, which I succeed-
ed in doing, after much labor and great danger to myself and
mule. When I reached the top, the sun was just setting, and
my mule being very tired, I permited him to rest, while I climbed
a tree, to see if the Indians were still pursuing me; I could
see nothing of them, and concluded they had given up the chase.
Descending the tree, I was soon on my way, and directing my
course so as to intersect the Blue river road, which I gained
about twelve o'clock that night, and about two in the morning
crossed Blue river, where I found a good hiding place and lay
down and slept until day-break, when I pursued my journey and
was soon out of all danger from the Indians.
I have not narrated here all my plans and difficulties in
making my escape; but enough has been said to induce my
readers to agree with me in ascribing the preservation of my life
to the protecting care of a kind Providence.
Nothing further of interest transpired in this tour. I arrived
at home on the 8th of October. My family and friends were as
much grieved as myself, at my disappointment in not finding the
Having learned from the public papers, and otherwise, that
two children had been brought in to Fort Gibson, I ^started for
that place on the 22nd of December, 1842. Nothing of note
occurred on this journey. I arrived at Fort Gibson on the 15th
of January, 1843, where I was rejoiced to find my grandson,
James Pratt Plummer, and my nephew, John Parker.
I found Capt. Brown, the commandant of the Fort, a perfect
gentleman. He treated me very kindly, and rendered me all
the aid necessary. I soon convinced him that the children were
those I was in search of.
When the children were brought to me, although seven years
had elapsed since I had seen them, and they had altered very
much by growth, and from the ill usage of the Indians, I re-
cognized in the features of my grandson, those of his mother,
Mrs. Plummer; and my joy at rescuing him from Indian bar-
barity was not a little abated by the reminisences brought to mind
by his striking resemblance of his mother. The sympathising
officers of the garrison appeared to partake of the mingled feel-
ings of joy and grief, it was beyond my power to restrain on the
My grandson, learning that I had come after him, ran off,
and went to the Dragoon encampment, about one mile from the
Garrison. Poor child, how my heart bled, when he thus avoided
me. Torn, as he had been, in his infancy, from the tender care
of a mother and father; unused, as he had been, (until he ar-
rived at this place) to enjoying kind treatment from anybody;
ignorant, as he was, of any of those tender feelings of love and
kind attentions which are the offspring of paternal affection, it
is not to be thought strange that he was incapable of appreciat-
ing my kind intentions toward him.
Being much fatigued, I retired to rest, but my sufferings and
trials for the last seven years, passing in retrospect across my
mind, sleep was driven from my eyes, and I arose in the morning
but little refreshed.
Early the next morning Capt. Brown sent a Sergeant after
my grandson. When he arrived, the Captain and some of the
other officers joined with me in persuading him to go with me.
After more than two hours conversation, we succeeded in making
him understand how I was related to him, at which he appeared
much astonished, and asked me if he had a mother. I told him
he had not, as she had died. He then asked if he had a father.
I told him he had, and if he would go with me he should see
him. He then consented to accompany me.
It will.be recalled that the children were very young when
taken by the Indians, and consequently could now talk very
little English. As I could not well understand them, nor they
me, I was relieved from the pain of listening to their recital of
the sufferings they had endured whilst among the Indians. The
evidences, however, of the free exercise of savage barbarity, were
visible upon the backs of these unfortunate children; for there
was scarcely a place wherever the finger could be laid, without
its covering a scar made by the lash.
After these children became able to make themselves under-
stood, their own recital of their sufferings would make any
Capt. Brown made out the necessary documents to the
Executive of Texas, and we were soon on our way home. The two
boys rode my horse, and I walked, until we reached Fort Smith.
Finding that I could walk no farther, I here purchased a pony.
We now pursued our journey, and a severe time we had of it.
The children, as well as myself, were very thinly clad ; and
there having been a heavy fall of rain, we found the road in
many places almost impassable. Added to this, the weather was
very cold ; and we all suffered very much. Soon after we crossed
Red River, one of our horses was bogged, and it was sometime in
the night before we succeeded in getting him out.
We arrived at home on the 27th of February, much fatigued.
My wife and many of my neighbors met me at Cincinnati, on
the Trinity River, twelve miles from my house, and joyous indeed
was our meeting. I had now completed another tour of suffer-
ing; and grateful were my feelings to God on finding myself
again with my family, and all in good health.
The boys soon became attached to me and my family. They
soon learned to speak English, and are now doing well.
I cannot close this chapter without an acknowledgment of
the kind treatment I received from many persons in going to and
returning from Fort Gibson ; among whom I would name Capt.
Rogers and Capt. Bliss, of Fort Smith; Col. Lumas, of Fort
Towson; Parson Potts, missionary among the Choctaws; and
Mr. Donoho, of Clarksville.
A brief synopsis of the foregoing chapters — / hear of a girl
having been brought into Jasper County, Missouri, whom I
start to see, thinking she was my niece Cynthia Ann Parker
— my disappointment — / go to Charleston, Illinois — thence
to Louisville, Kentucky.
In writing out the foregoing chapters, which cover the most
interesting part of my narrative, it has been necessary to abridge
as much as possible. In doing this, many interesting events and
amusing anecdotes have unavoidably been omitted for want of
space. To enter minutely into all the particulars, and to re-
hearse all that transpired in my journeyings in seach of the
prisoners, would occupy, at least, three hundred pages; the
expense of printing which I am not able to bear. Another reason
for omitting a detail of many of my sufferings and miraculous
escapes, is, that I am confident few, of any, would believe them.
The reader no doubt thinks that what I have already related
of my sufferings is miraculous enough ; but, could I retrace my
life, and endure again my past sufferings, and make him an eye-
witness to them, then he would agree with me, that what I have
narrated is nothing, when compared with the awful reality.
From the capture of the Fort, up to the time my daughter
was recovered, at least three-fourths of my time was spent in the
wilderness. Sometimes I would not see a human being, except
Indians, and they at a distance off, for two months. My only
food was wild meat, without salt or bread, and that often un-
cooked. My only resting place, the cold ground; and my only
covering, the arched dome of Heaven. Often I was without a
mouthful of food for five or six days at a time ; and frequently
hope fled my bosom, and despair, horrible despair seized upon
me. More than twenty times have I calmly and sincerely wished
that death would end my sufferings; and on one or two occa-
sions, I was on the eve of aiding the fell monster in the work
with my own hands.
My feet being very tender, from freezing, I could often have
been traced by the blood that marked my every step over the
frozen ground. Sometimes, in the heat of summer, whilst re-
connoitering the Indians in the large prairies, the vertical rays of
the mid-day sun would so blister and parch my face and hands,
that the skin would peel from them; and often my thirst was so
great, that I would have given a mountain of pure gold, had I
possessed it, for one draught of water.
Most of the country over which I traveled, was infested by
beasts of prey and venomous reptiles ; and not unf requently have
I narrowly escaped being destroyed by the ravenous jaws of the
former, or the venomous fangs of the latter.
My readers may feel some surprise that I always went on
these tours alone. A moment's reflection will convince them of
the propriety of my doing so. I was not permitted to take a
sufficient number of men with me to fight the Indians, and my
only hope was to steal the prisoners from the enemy. The fewer
in company then, less was the danger of my being discovered
by the savages and killed. But, to return to a continuation of
In February, 1844, information was received in Texas that a
girl had been purchased from the Comanches and brought to
Jasper county, Missouri, who, from the description given of her,
I thought was my niece, now the only prisoner that was taken at
Fort Parker, that had not been recovered.
I procured my passport from the Executive of Texas, and set
about arranging my affairs for a journey to Missouri to see this
girl. I first tried to raise some money, but although I offered to
sell property for one-tenth of its real value, for that purpose, I
failed. I tried to borrow money from Gen. Houston, and
others, but there was scarcely any money in the country, and
consequently all my endeavors to raise funds availed me nothing.
Having prepared to start, I determined to wait no longer for
money; and on the 21st day of June took leave of my family,
assuring them that this should be the last journey I would go in
pursuit of the prisoner.
When I reached Clarksville, in Texas, I stopped a few days
for the purpose of getting some money due me there. I collected
five dollars. When that was expended, I solicited work that I
might get some more, but could find no one who had money to
pay for the kind of work I could do.
I now pursued my journey to Missouri ; and although I had
but a few dollars, it is no less strange than true, that it was as
much as I needed. On my whole route, the people whom I met
treated me with a kindness and liberality I little looked for from
entire strangers. It is true that to many of them I was person-
ally a stranger ; yet, they knew me well by character.
With the exception of the extreme warm weather, and much
annoyance from the horse flies in the western part of Arkansas
and Missouri, I had a pleasant journey. I reached Jasper county,
Missouri, on the 5th of August, and found that the girl I went
to see was not my niece, but, as I believed, the daughter of a
Mrs. Williams of Texas. I proposed to take her with me to
Texas, on my return, which created some unpleasant feelings
between one of the citizens of that county and myself. How-
ever, I resolved that she should accompany me to Texas on my
Having learned that there was a white girl among the Kick-
apoo Indians, I determined to go to see her, and accordingly set
out for that purpose. I arrived at Maj. Robert Cummins'
(Indian Agent,) near Westport, Missouri, on the 15th of August.
Maj. C, as soon as I presented him my authority from my
Government, set out with me to the Kickapoo nation. We went
by the way of Fort Leavenworth, and the stationed officers there
promptly rendered all the necessary aid. We soon found the
girl, who proved to be of the same nation of Indians, but having
some white blood in her. They wished to pass her off as a
white girl for the purpose of gain.
To Maj. Cummins I am under lasting obligations for his
prompt attention to my call, as well as many signal favors ren-
On the 20th of August, I put an advertisement in the "West-
ern Expositor," published at Independence, Missouri, offering a
reward of $300 for any prisoner that might be brought in, and
$500 for my niece. Having enlisted the good feelings of several
of the leading men of Independence in my favor, and secured
the assistance of Col. Alvaier, the U. S. Minister to Santa Fe,
Dr. Waldo, and Maj. Rickman, in forwarding my object, I deter-
mined to go to brother Nathaniel Parker's, in Charleston,
On this route, as well as the one from Texas to Independence,
I had many interesting meetings. I attended the Mount Gilead
Association, 35 miles from Quincy, 111., where I had the pleasure
of cultivating an acquaintance with many of the brethren,
among among whom were Elders Harper, Hogan, Roberts,
Williams, Dr. James M. Clarkson, and many others. I reached
my brother's, in Charleston, on the 20th of September. I re-
mained sometime in that county; and it was here my friends
again urged upon me to have my journal published.
Here I met with Elder B. B. Piper, who urged me to accom-
pany him to Louisville, and proffered me all the aid in his power
in getting the work through the press. We arrived in Louisville
on the 18th day of October. I have found in Louisville a mag-
nanimous people, among whom I have found friends indeed.
Among those from whom I have received particular kindnesses,
and to whom I shall ever feel under obligations, I cannot forego
naming Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy, Mrs. Breckenridge, Mr. A. L.
Shotwell and lady, Mr. W. N. Haldeman, Mr. R. B. J. Twyman
and lady, and Mr. J. M. Stephens and lady.
In Sellersburg, Indiana, I have also met with many kind
friends, whose favors I shall remember with the most lively
gratitude, among whom I could name Elder M. W. Sellers, Mr.
Wm. Jackson, Mr. Sparks and Mr. Wm. Parker.
Since I have been in Louisville, I have tried, under much
affliction, to preach. I have also visited several of the neighbor-
ing churches — at New Albany, Sellersburg, Elk Creek, Buck-
run, &c. I hope, through the mercy of Providence, soon to be
on my home, where I shall endeavor to spend the remainder
of my days in the faithful discharge of my duty to my God, my
country and my family.
JAMES W. PARKER.
Picture of Cyntha Ann Parker, with her babe nursing, Prairie
Flower, taken a few days after her capture by Sull
Ross, mother of Quanna Parker, Comanche
Climate, Soil, Timber Water, &c,
Texas it situated between 29 and 42 degrees N. lat., and
16 1/2 and 24 degrees W. Ion., from Washington city.
It is bordered on the north and east by the United States;
south, by the Gulf of Mexico; west, by the Rio Grande, (Big
River;) thence by a direct northern line to 42 degrees N. lat.
At 32 degrees N. lat., the line between Texas and the United
States strikes Red River, not far from the Sulphur Fork, and a
short distance above the Great Raft. Ascending this river, I
shall only notice the country on the Texas side. There are
many small tributaries, but none of note, until we reach the
Bois d'arc, which takes its name from the abundance of that
timber growing on its banks.
The bottoms on Red River are generally rich ; but, owing to
the overflows to which they are subject, much the largest portion
of them are valueless. The small streams that empty them-
selves into Red River, through these streams, are almost im-
passable, on account of the bogs that border them nearly their
whole length. In these bottoms are also many small lakes and
ponds, which, with the low, marshy condition of that section of
the country, render it very unhealthy, and make it an unfit
residence for man. Mosquitoes are plentiful here; and healthy
water for family use is not to be found.
The soil is mostly of a dark red sticky clay, which is very
hard when dry. Yet there are many fine farms in a high state
of cultivation in these bottoms, and great quantities of cotton and
corn are grown. In the course of time, when the river has
levees built on its banks and the ponds are drained, nearly all
these bottoms will become valuable. There are some prairies in
these bottoms — Lost prairie, Eelom's prairie, Jonesborough, &c.
The bottoms are generally from a mile and a half to three miles
wide; and in some places the river is banked by the high lands.
At Old Spanish Bluff, a few miles above Lost Prairie, there is a
good site for a town. Upon the high lands the timber is gene-
rally oak and hickory, interspersed with pine. The soil is gene-
rally of a sandy quality — in some places, of a dark loam appear-
ance; in others, of a whiter color. In wet weather seasons,
these ridges are very boggy and almost impassable.
In the Red River bottoms the timber grows very heavy, and
consists of a variety. Oak, ash, gum, elm, walnut, pecan, Bois
d'arc, &c. The Bois d'arc is a very valuable timber, as it par-
takes somewhat of the qualities of lignum vitae. When well
seasoned, it can only be worked with a file. There are many
springs of excellent water found among the high lands bordering
on the bottoms.
The range for stock is tolerably good ; the grass on the high
lands. furnishing food in summer, and the cane in the bottoms
supplying the same in winter. The high floods are often danger-
ous to the cattle and hogs; and many are lost by getting into
swamps and becoming bogged.
Farther out from the river, where the small streams have
their beginning, the face of the country is level, and generally
poor land. It is very dangerous to travel through that part of
the country in a wet season, as in many places the ground pre-
sents a solid appearance to the eye, when if you venture upon it,
your horse will bog beyond all recovery in a moment's time. The
timber is mostly post oak and pine on the hills; whilst on the
borders of the creeks, it is principally black walnut, red oak and
The country from Red River to Sulphur Fork, partakes
generally of the character of that above described. It is fast
settling ; and although to the passing traveler the country is not
prepossessing, yet it produces remarkably well. Villages are
fast springing up, farms being opened daily, and this country
bids fair to be densely inhabited in a short time.
Pecan Creek heads in a large prairie, which continues in a
westerly direction between Sulphur Fork and main Red River.
This prairie is very rich. In it is located the flourishing town of
Clarksville, the county seat of Red River County. The stranger
would be struck with the beauty of this town, situated as it is in
a fine farming country, and surrounded by the most valuable
farms in a high state of cultivation. There are several stores,
taverns, and other business houses, in Clarksville, and nearly all
the mechanical branches are also carried on. The "Northern
Standard," edited by Maj. Demorse, is published here. The
town is growing very fast; and although the spot on which it
stands was a trackless wilderness ten years since, it now num-
bers about 1000 inhabitants. What it will be ten years hence, it
is impossible to conjecture.
Blossom prairie, a few miles west of Clarksville, is not sur-
passed for luxuriance of soil and salubrity of climate, by any
section of country it was ever my good fortune to travel over. In
the south border of this prairie is located the seat of justice of
Lamar county. The town, I believe, is yet without a name.
This prairie is about 30 miles along and 6 in width. The section
of country between this prairie and Red River, is of a superior
quality to that on Pecan Bayou, (or creek,) being more free from
bogs. It is mostly a prairie country, continuing west from
Clarksville, until we reach the head of Sulphur Fork and Bois
d'arc rivers. The soil and timber on these rivers are much the
same, and not unlike those on Pecan Bayou.
The face of the country near the mouth of Bois d'arc River,
is very similar to that around Jonesborough. There are not as
many lakes and ponds found there; but the soil and timber are
alike. The distance from Jonesborough to the spot where the
Bois d'arc empties inself into Red River, is about 60 miles.
About twenty miles from its mouth, the Bois d'arc looses its
channel, and passes promiscuously through a bottom of some
6 miles in length and two miles in width. This place is called
the "Scatters." When the river is full, this bottom presents one
general lake; and in a very dry season, the bottom is entirely
dry. A few miles above this place is Fort English, the seat of
justice of Fannin County. About twenty miles from this, on
Red River, is the town of Warren, formerly the seat of justice.
It is on the south side of Red River. Col Daniel Montague is
the proprietor. A few miles above this town, Choctaw Bayou
empties its waters into Red River. This bayou drains a moun-
tainous country. The country bordering on Red River below is
very badly watered.
Immediately above Warren, and at several points between
there and the mouth of Bos d'arc River, are very high bluffs,
which, from the varied colors of the stone of which they are
formed, present a singular and picturesque appearance. Some of
the rocks are perfectly white, some red, and others black. A few
miles above this are the Cross Timbers, which will be described
in another place. For many miles above this point, the country
is hilly and very broken. The timber grows very thick and of
nearly all kinds. There are many fine mill sites to be found,
and the bottoms are very rich. In these bottoms, cane and green
briars grow in abundance.
False Ouachita River empties itself into Red River at the
Cross Timbers, from the north side. The course of Red River
for some miles below this point, is E. N. E.; but a few miles
above, the Texas line will leave the Red River and run due
North to Arkansas River. This line is to run 100 degrees W.
Ion. from Greenwich. Here is a large and desirable country
that belongs to Texas, that has, as yet, received but little atten-
tion. This country, which is drained by False Ouachita and
other tributaries of Red River, on the one side; and by Cana-
dian, Arkansas, &c, on the other, is well diversified ; being well
watered, and timbered with oak, ash, walnut, hickory, hack-
berry, &c, and very rich. There are some few prairies. The
country is now inhabited by the Choctaws, Chickasaws, and
other tribes of friendly Indians. When this country becomes
settled, it will be found as healthy as any in the world, as there
exist no local causes to produce disease.
At the mouth of the Cash Fork of Witchataw River, Red
River is so hemmed in by impassable mountains, that it is im-
possible at present to find egress to the back country ; but as we
ascend the river, the country becomes more level and fine, rich
prairies are now found. This is a fine wheat growing country
and there is no doubt that the day is near at hand when the
wheat grown on these prairies will supply the whole interior of
In all this section of country, wild honey may be found in
abundance, and when it is settled it may truly be called the land
that "flows with milk and honey." As an evidence of the great
quantity of honey to be found in this section of the country, it
is not unusual to find, where timber is scarce, bee-hives on
the ground in the prairie grass. I found one of these hives,
if they may be so called, in one of my tours. The outside of the
little house is covered with a kind of wax, which, whilst it is im-
pervious to water, the heat of the sun has no effect upon it.
When I found this I cut a hole in it, and took as much honey as
I could eat. Sometime after, when passing that way, I again
visited it, and found the industrious inmates of this little house
had repaired the breach I had wantonly made, and were pursuing
their labors as usual. The honey was too tempting and I again
regaled myself upon the sweet product of their labor. These
waxen honey castles will withstand snows and rains and the
hottest rays of the sun ; and when they escape the ravages of the
greedy bear (this animal is very fond of honey, and never suffers
an opportunity for satiating his appetite to pass,) and the raging
fire of the burning prairie, they will stand for several years. But
to turn from this digression.
The Sulphur Fork of Red River heads in Fannin county.
This is a heavy running deep stream, and runs parallel with
main Red River, at an average distance of about thirty-five
miles. The country between these two rivers has already been
Southwest of Sulphur Fork, that is, between it and Cypress
creek, there is a high rolling tract of country abounding in iron
ore of the richest quality. Springs are plenty here, but the
water is so strongly impregnated with iron that it is very dis-
agreeable to the taste. The town of Dangerfield is situated be-
tween Sulphur Fork and Big Cypress. In this section of country
the timber is diversified, and the soil is much better than that
described on the opposite side of the river, with the exception of
Blossom prairie and the adjacent country. The bottoms on this
river, like those on Red River, are boggy. The bed of the river
partakes so much of the character of its bottoms and banks, that
it is impossible to ford it, even in the dryest time, except at a few
places. The land near the mouth of Sulphur Fork is so low
that it often overflows, in consequence of which it will doubtless
never be settled.
White Oak Creek, which takes its name from the abundance
of that timber found on its banks, empties into Sulphur Fork
nearly opposite Clarksville. It drains a fine tract of country.
Here is a large settlement, as there is also east and south of this.
The soil here, although productive, is also boggy. Good water
is seldom found, though no doubt, as the country becomes settled
the water will improve.
Big and Little Cypress do not reach the Cross Timbers.
They stand second among the small streams of Texas. There is
such a similarity between the land on these creeks and that just
described, that a few remarks will suffice. -There are few
prairies found here, and those very small. The soil is rather
wet, though much of it is very rich. The timber is very heavy,
particularly south of Little Cypress, and in the vicinity of Soda
Lake. It consists mostly of cypress, oak, ash, elm, hickory,
walnut and pine. Shumake, red bud, buckeye, and in short,
all the undergrowth usually found in the Western states grow
in abundance here.
This section of country is now thickly settled; and the
flourishing town of Marshal, the seat of justice of Harrison
county, having sprung up as by magic, being located in its center,
is making rapid strides to distinction among her sister towns
of this young Republic. This country, a few years since was
held by the Caddo Indians; and the weary traveler, as he pur-
sued his lonesome way, was in continued danger of savage bar-
barity. There are now several stores, two or three public
houses, &c, &c, at Marshal, and it supports an interesting
newspaper, called the "Marshal Review.' , Business of every
description appears brisk, and the emigration now flowing into
that interesting section of country, is of that class calculated to
make it rise, with giant strides, to importance.
On Big Cypress, at the crossing of the Cherokee trace, is
located Fort Sherman, whither the citizens of that country would
flee in case they were attacked by the Indians. Many persons
have been murdered here by the Indians; but it is confidently
believed that there is no danger now to be apprehended from the
Indians in that part of the country.
There is but a small portion of this region of country that
may be called first-rate, though most of it stands high in the
second class. There are many fine springs and some good mills
in this section of the country. These two streams empty their
waters into and form Lake Soda.
The line between Texas and Louisiana crosses this lake
about twenty miles from its head. The lake on either side is
bordered by large bodies of fine land, and many wealthy farm-
ers have already located and improved the largest portion of it,
who annually grow fine crops of cotton, corn, oats, rye, potatoes,
barley, &c. This country, as well as all that adjoining large
rivers or lakes, (as in all new countries,) is at present sickly.
But as it becomes settled the health improves. The sickness
is generally chills and fevers.
A line on the 32 degree of north latitude separates this part
of Texas from the United States. This line terminates on the
southwest bank of the Sabine ; and it is this intervening country
that I shall now notice.
Sabine river empties its waters into Sabine bay, and is the
eastern boundary of Texas, from the Gulf of Mexico to the
32nd degree N. latitude. Commencing at the gulf, and ascend-
ing the bay, Neytches, (or Snow river,) is the first stream
worthy of notice. There are several small creeks that empty
into the Sabine below the Texas line — the Pola Cocho, Blue
Bayou, Tanaha, &c. Here the country differs very much from
any I have described. The soil is of a deep red color, almost rival-
ing the vermillion hue, and is very productive. The bottom land is
generally covered with very heavy cane, is very rich, and were
it not for its great liability to overflow, would be very valuable.
The creek bottoms are equally as liable to overflow as those on
the rivers, as they have very little fall, and their banks being
low, the larger streams, when full, overflow the banks of the
smaller ones by back water.
The red soil spoken of, runs through the counties of Sabine,
Jasper, Shelby, San Augustine, Nacogdoches, and part of Rusk
and Houston. There is but little prairie land in this section of
the country ; timber is abundant, and differs very little in variety
from that abounding in the country already described, with the
addition of beach, sugar-tree, magnolia, holly and pine. The
two latter are found here in great abundance. Mosquitoes and
ticks are very numerous, though as the country becomes settled
they are less troublesome.
The country lying between the Sabine and Trinity rivers, and
north of the San Antonio road, was formerly held by the Cherokee
Indians. Many consider this the garden spot of Texas. The
face of the country is diversified, so that there can be found
in the Cherokee country, any, and almost every variety of land,
both as to quality and situation. Some very rich, and some
very poor land may be found here. In one spot a fine level
prairie, and at another, high undulating heavy timbered land.
The Sabine heads near the Cross Timbers, and drains an
extensive and rich country, and is navigable for small class
steamboats a distance of 350 or 400 miles. The Cherokee In-
dians, through their Chief ,■ obtained a grant from the Mexican
government, to colonize and settle this country; but becoming
jealous of their Chief, (Fields,) they assassinated him before
he had organized and arranged the land according to contract,
and they occupied the land as a hunting ground, without regard
to the fulfillment of the contract specified in the grant, until
the year, 1835, when the Provisional Congress being in force,
and governing Texas, offered to confirm the grant from the
Mexican government to them under certain stipulations, which
they failing to comply with, caused their expulsion from the
territory. Their removal, however, was not effected until after
several hard fought battles.
Snow River empties into Sabine bay a few miles from the
mouth of Sabine river. The country between these rivers, for
thirty or forty miles, is low, spouty, poor land, with very few
exceptions. At or below the junction of the Neytches, and the
Angalana rivers, (which forms Snow river,) the country is bet-
ter, and improves as you ascend. The Angalana drains a large
tract of country ; having its head in the country lately described
as the Cherokee country. I have said that some think this
country the "garden spot of Texas." There is much very fine
land in this country, but I think it has been greatly over-rated.
The little river Attoeac empties into the Angalana about
thirty miles above the junction of the latter with the Neytches.
It has its head in Shelby county, and runs through San Augustine
county. The country through which it passes is mostly the red
soiled land previously spoken of. Iesh Bayou has its beginning
in San Augustine county, not far from the city of San Augustine.
There are many other small streams tributary to the Angalana,
which I shall not notice. The head waters of the Angalana are
not far from the Cross Timbers. The country through which it
passes is well watered, and generally good land.
This country, since the Indians were driven from it, is fast
settling by the whites, many of whom are cultivating the farms
improved by the Indians. Some of them have fine peach
orchards, and present appearances indicate that the day is not
far distant, when this part of Texas will be densely settled.
The average distance between the Angalana and Sabine rivers,
after ascending either about thirty-five miles, is about fifty
The Neytches river, and the country it drains, are so much
like the Angalana and the country just described, that I leave
the reader to apply that of the former to the latter. It heads in
about the same degree of the Angalana, which is not far from
the 33d degree of N. latitude. On this river, in the country
claimed and held for a time by the Cherokees, is a fine salt
works, which, if properly worked, would furnish salt enough to
supply all of Texas. At present it is not worked extensively,
because there is not demand for it at a price that will justify the
manufacturer. There are many other places on this river, and
also on the Angalana, where salt water has been found in
abundance. All the head waters of these rivers are strongly
impregnated with iron, which is an evidence of the immense
quantity of iron ore in this region, which is said, by good judges,
to be very rich, particularly on the western or southwestern
waters of the Neytches.
On San Pedro bayou are many very rich and large bodies of
iron ore and many fine mill sites, on which are some valuable
mills. There are many fine farms on this creek. (I would here
remark that all the creeks and streams that do not rate as rivers,
in Texas are called bayous.)
On Joney creek there are also many fine mill sites. This
creek takes its name from the Joney tribe of Indians that once
inhabited that section of country. There are many fine springs
of good water in this region, and there are but few more healthy
countries in the world. This section of country is on the north
side of the San Antonio road, in Houston county. Crockett is
the seat of Justice for this county, and is a flourishing town.
The land on the south side of this road is not so rich as that on
the north side; being very level and boggy. There are many
prairies here, some of which are very poor, while others are
very fertile. It is almost an invariable rule that where you
find prairies bordered by pine timber, the land is generally poor ;
but where it is bordered by post-oak, the land is generally good.
I have now given a general description of that part of Texas
bordering on the States of Louisiana and Arkansas embracing
the following counies: Fannin, Lamar, Red River, Harrison,
Shelby, San Augustine, Sabine and Jasper, and a part of Liberty,
Nacogdoches, Houston and Rusk. I will now commence in
Jefferson county, at Sabine City, and after describing it, I will,
in future, commence at the Gulf of Mexico, with each important
stream, as they come, progressing southwest with the gulf
stream; and describe each stream from its mouth to its head,
and the territory adjacent to and intervening.
SABINE CITY, PASS AND BAY.
Sabine city stands on the south bank of Sabine Pass, im-
mediately where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico. It is a fine
healthy situation for a large commercial city, which it is destined
to be. It has one of the best harbors on the Gulf of Mexico.
At low tide the Pass has fourteen feet of water in it, which
gives second class ships easy ingress and egress to the bay. The
bay is about forty miles in length, and six miles wide. Ten
miles from the city of Sabine, upon a high eminence, there is a
United States garrison, from which you have a commanding
view of the bay. From this point you may look in a south-
westerly direction, and see upon the silver bosom of Sabine bay,
the merchant vessels with their snow-white sails, pressed by the
gentle breeze, bearing their rich cargoes from foreign countries
to this young republic; or having discharged them, and reladen
with valuable cargoes of cotton, the produce of the rich soil of
Texas, returning to the gulf, where they are soon lost in the dis-
tance. Steamboats will also be seen ploughing their way up or
down the bay, bearing the rich merchandise of the interior, or
valuable produce of the soil to the city of Sabine for exportation.
By the aid of a spy-glass, you may look beyond the city, and
upon the gulf, and there you may see ships of all classes passing
and repassing, all bearing evidence of the healthy state of trade
between Texas and the other nations of the earth.
Now go down to the bay, and, in its clear waters, see the
thousands of red fish, as they seek for food or playfully glide
through their native element. This is the most delicious fish in
the world — so say epicures — and may be taken with ease. You
will also see immense numbers of porpoise, mullets, and crabs.
Along the shores of the bay, may also be found imperishable
banks of the most delicious oysters. Wild fowl may be seen in
great numbers on this bay, as also on all the principal lakes,
bays and streams of Texas. I would here remark, that there is
no country, perhaps, on earth, where wild game, from the buffalo
down to the squirrel — wild fowl, both water and land — and fish
of any quality and number, are more plenty; thus offering a
wide field to the hunter and the angler.
Ten miles from this spot, down the bay, you may see the city
of Sabine, stretching along the Pass, presenting a most beauti-
ful scene. Now taking a sail-boat, you may soon glide down
the bay to the city, and landing, you now stand on the spot,
noted in song and in story as the strong hold of La Fitte, the
pirate of the Gulf of Mexico. It was here he retreated when
pursued by a formidable foe — here he devised his hellish deeds
of plunder and murder — here he divided his illgotten wealth
among his brave, though outlawed followers, and here the
pirates, song mingled with the tempest roar. Many are the tales
of hidden treasure here, and a few of its present inhabitants
have wasted much time in vain searches after it. Upon this
spot, where 20 years ago, revelled this band of pirates, for a long
time the terror of the Gulf, there is now rising, in grandeur and
magnificence, a commercial city, which is destined, at no dis-
tant day, to rival any other on the American continent.
The gulf-breeze renders a residence in this city both pleasant
and healthy. Already have extensive commercial houses been
established here, and mechanics are fast filling the city with
GALVESTON CITY, ISLAND AND BAY—TRINITY
RIVER, AND LIBERTY COUNTY
Leaving Sabine city, we will sail along the coast, and at a
distance of about ninety miles, reach the city of Galveston, which
numbers about 9,000 inhabitants. This city is situated on Gal-
veston Island, which is formed by Galveston Bay on the North,
the Gulf of Mexico on the East and South, and by West Bay,
on the West. The Island is about 25 miles in length, and its
average width is about five miles. The city of Galveston has
been the principal port of entry for Texas since its settlement.
Galveston Bay is 35 or 40 miles in width, and about the same
in length, being nearly circular.
Trinity river empties its waters into Galveston Bay, near
the town of Anahuac, in Liberty county. Turtle, Spink's, Self's,
Kettle, Milton's, and Kickapoo creeks are the principal tributa-
ries of the Trinity from the east side ; and Old river, New man's,
Cedar, and Big creeks, on the west; all in Liberty county.
This county is bounded on the east by Jefferson and Jasper
counties, on the south by Galveston county, west by Brazoria and
Harris counties, and on the north by Houston county, and con-
tains territory enough to make six counties of the usual size.
Trinity river runs through the whole length of this county.
Liberty is the seat of justice, and is situated on the east bank of
the river, is a very considerable town, and is fast improving.
Liberty county is generally well timbered with oaks of all
kinds, cedar, elm, ash, walnut, pecan, &c, with the exception of
that part near the mouth of the river, which is mostly level, poor
prairie. The bottoms are covered with heavy cane-brakes, and
are subject to overflow, which renders them untillable, and dan-
gerous to stock. Mosquitoes are very numerous here, and chills
and fevers prevalent.
The high lands, a few miles from the river, though very
heavily timbered, I consider about third rate ; yet, fine cotton is
grown upon them. The most of the soil is of a light grey color,
and of a tough, boggy character. I do not consider this a healthy
section of country, for the reasons before mentioned.
The trinity is the western boundry line of Houston and Rusk
counties, and the eastern boundry line of Montgomery and
Robinson counties. In Montgomery, Cummins', Harrison's,
Nelson's and Bedo's creeks empty their waters into the Trinity.
These creeks drain a richer region of country than that noticed
in Liberty county. Much of it is prairie, and very rich, being
a dark clay soil. The timbered land in these two last named
counties, is generally productive, the soil being sandy, and of a
dark yellow color. This is a fine cotton growing country, and
some experiments have removed all doubt of its producing sugar
cane to a great extent, when properly cultivated.
On the head waters of the above named creeks, many fine
springs of pure, healthy water may be found. This part of the
county is already thickly settled, and some fine mills and cotton
gins have been built on these creeks. The bottom lands here,
are subject to the same objections mentioned to those in Liberty
The town of Cincinnati is situated on the west bank of the
Trinity, about midway the mouths of Bedo's and Nelson's creeks.
This town is destined to be a large commercial city. Like her
namesake, on the Ohio river in the United States, she is spring-
ing up as by magic, and judging from present appearances, there
is but little doubt tbut her increase in population and improve-
ments will be in about the same ratio that marked he growth of
the latter place. The San Antonio road is the northern boundry
of Montgomery county, and divides it from Robinson county.
In Houston county, Walnut, Whiterock, Barton's Negro,
Hurricane, Elkhart, Catfish, and several other smaller creeks,
are tributaries to the Trinity. These streams drain a diversified
country, not unlike that described in Montgomery county, on the
opposite side of the river, below the San Antonio road. These
last named creeks empty into the Trinity above this road, and
opposite to Robinson county. The town of Alabama is situated
on the east bank of the Trinity, a few miles below the mouth of
Hurricane creek. Parkersville is about 40 miles above, on the
same side of the river, and seven miles west of Fort Houston.
Both of these towns are rapidly improving, and will soon be
largely populated. The latter town has only been located about
12 months. The surrounding country is fast settling by an in-
dustrious, farming community, and there are now two extensive
saltworks in operation within five miles of the town. Less than
two years since, there was not a house within seven miles of the
spot on which the town now stands, on one side, and on the
other, the nearest house was distant sixty miles.
As before mentioned, Crockett is the seat of justice of Hous-
ton county. It is on the San Antonio road, 25 miles east of
Robbin's ferry. Here, the soil, timber, water, &c, are so very
similar to that already described on the Sabine, Cypress, &c,
that a description of it is deemed unnecessary. There are many
very fine mill-streams in this county. The county on the north
side of the San Antonio road, is much more desirable than that
on the south side ; being more healthy, better watered and more
On the head-waters of the three last named creeks, large
bodies of iron ore may be found. In the country around Fort
Houston, which is 35 miles from Crockett, wheat grows well,
so far as has been tried. Here, there are but few prairies, and
those very small. Progressing towards the northern part of this
county, we leave the pine timber country, prairies become more
frequent, are larger, and the land is of a better quality. The
most important objection to this part of the country, is the scar-
city of timber, and the inferior quality of what little there is ; it
being small, scrubby post oak.
ROBINSON AND RUSK COUNTIES— TRINITY
We will now notice the west side of the river, or Robinson
county, which lies north of the San Antonio road. This coun-
ty extends to the head waters of the Trinity, and even to the
northern boundry line of Texas ; a distance of 750 or 800 miles,
and contains as much territory as the State of Kentucky, if. not
To enter into a minute and intelligible description of the
immense tract of country, would not only be impossible, under
existing circumstances, but useless. One difficulty is, the numer-
ous and different names given to the streams, prairies, &c,
in this country ; and another is, that much the largest portion of
it has never been traveled over by any white man within my
knowledge. I shall, therefore, expect my readers to be satisfied
with a general description of that portion of this vast territory,
which has come under my own observation.
A small portion of this country has been located by military
and other land claimants. Much more of it would have been
located, but for the opposition of the hostile Indians that infest
the largest portion of it. There is but one public road in this
country, and that is in the vicinity of the town of Franklin, situ-
ated about 15 miles north of the San Antonio road, and nearly
60 miles from the southeast corner of the county, or Robin's
Including the Cross Timbers, and a considerable, portion of
the country below, is located the new, or what is called "Trinity
Colony," which will be described in its proper place. Boggy
creek empties into the Trinity five miles above Robin's Ferry.
On this creek is Boggy Fort, which though much exposed to the
Indians, has been sustained. Above this there are many small
streams, each having almost as many different names as the
number of persons that have crossed them. Tawacona, Kea-
cheye, Elm, Grindstone, Richland, &c. These creeks, head in
a prairie country, which is truly beautiful and rich. There is
not a more salubrious climate in the world than this.
In speaking of a healthy section of country, I wish to be un-
derstood as excepting the river and creek bottoms, in all cases,
as they, with a very few exceptions, being low and boggy, ren-
ders the country in their vicinity, unhealthy — nor do I wish to
be understood as attributing to these locations, in Texas, a more
unhealthy atmosphere than like causes would produce in any
country. I have said I would give an impartial history of the
country, and I am determined to redeem my pledge, if possible.
This rich and beautiful country extends from Robin's Ferry
to the Cross Timbers, a distance of nearly 200 miles. Many
travelers through this country, that is, W. and N. W. of Fort
Houston, have given it as their opinion that it is the garden-spot
of the world. These prairies, are in many places, covered with
the Muskete grass, which is acknowledged to be the most nutri-
cious, for stock, ever discovered.
The new colony, includes the country on the Trinity river,
and on the N. E. .to Red river. It also includes the Cross
Timbers, and runs a considerable distance down the Trinity
river. I do not know the Southern boundary of this colony,
but it runs S. W. to the heights between Trinity and Brazos
rivers. There are immense mountains of iron ore in the country
west of Fort Houston, which is richer if possible than those
mentioned on the east of Fort Houston.
As before mentioned, there is much of the county of Robin-
son that yet remains to be located and has never been traveled
over by the white man. So far, however, as I have examined
that county, I have no hesitation in asserting that the largest
body of good land to be found in Texas lies on the head waters
of the Trinity, in this county, in the 33rd deg. N. Lat., and 21st
deg. of W. long, from Washington City.
The whole northern section of Robinson county may be set
down as a diversified country, to the head of the Trinity, which
is in the large prairie N. W. of the Cross Timbers. The land
is generally rich in the prairies, and well calculated for agricul-
ture. The timbered lands vary in quality; there being some
very rich land, and much poor; generally well watered and
healthy. Much of the extreme northern part of this county which
extends to Oregon Territory has never been explored.
Rush county, which borders on the Trinity for about half the
length of Robinson, on the east side of the river, contains a ter-
ritory very similar to that described in the latter county. Cedar
Creek, and Bois d'Arc are the principal tributaries of Trinity
river in Rush county. It is necessary to mention here that there
are two Bois d'Arc rivers in Texas ; the one just mentioned, and
the one previously mentioned, which empties into Red River.
They head nearly together, and take their names from the same
cause, (the quantity of that timber found on them,) and might
be distinguished by calling the one that empties into Red river,
Northern Bois d'Arc, and the one emptying into Trinity river,
Southern Bois d'Arc. ^k
Trinity river is navigable to the mouth of Southern Bois
d'Arc, and in fact a considerable distance above. The whole
distance may be navigated from its mouth, may be set down at
between 700 and 800 miles.
SAN JACINTO RIVER— BUFFALO BAYOU— CITY
OF HOUSTON, &c, &c.
We will now return to Galveston Bay, and ascending San
Jacinto river, (which comes next in order) describe the country
on either side.
The San Jacinto empties into Galveston Bay, and has its
head in Montgomery county, meandering its way through Harris
county. Buffalo Bayou forms a junction with the San Jacinto
from the west side, near the bay. It was near this place, that was
fought the memorable battle of San Jacinto. On the head of this
bayou stands the city of Houston, which city was located and
settled in 1837, and now numbers near 10,000 inhabitants.
There are now published in that city 4 or 5 interesting news-
papers, and the rapid increase of business of every kind gives
promise of this city's rivaling, in a few years cities of four times
her age in the United States.
The country around Houston is far from prepossessing
either in the quality of its soil or appearance of the face of the
country. The land is generally level, poor, and boggy, growing
on the higher grounds, tall pines, of excellent quality, whilst the
timber in the bottoms is diversified.
Buffalo Bayou is natural canal, and is navigable as high as
the city of Houston, for the largest class of steam boats, at all
seasons of the year. In the year 1837, the seat of Government
was located at Houston, and a most costly and magnificent
capitoh built there. This wass doubtless, one cause of the rapid
growth of the city; though after the seat of government was
removed to the city of Austin, it continued to improve as fast as
it did before.
Spring Creek next empties its waters into the San Jacinto
on the west side. On this creek is a fine settlement of industri-
ous and wealthy citizens. Maj. Croft has erected a most excel-
lent mill on this creek. It heads in a large, poor prairie, which
extends nearly to the Brazos river, and south, to the Gulf.
Mill creek and Lake creek come in next above, on the same side.
These creeks drain a large, rich country of excellent land, which
is well timbered and well watered. Lake creek heads in what is
called the rotten limestone region with which the water is
strongly impregnated, and thereby rendered both unpleasant
and unhealthy. The land is high and rolling, and with the ex-
ception of its boggy tendency in a wet season, is well adapted
to agriculture. The prairies are small and very rich, and are
surrounded by the most valuable timber, such as pine, cedar, oaks
of all kinds, ash, pecan, elm, &c.
Returning to the east side of San Jacinto, twenty-five miles
above the city of Houston, the east and west forks of the San
Jacinto have their junction. Below this point, the country is
low, poor and boggy, as it is also for a considerable distance
below. Above this low level country, is what is called the
Big Thicket, which extends nearly to Trinity river, a distance of
45 miles. We shall not attempt a description of this thicket, as
there is not a man now living or dead, that is known to have
explored it. In some places it is an entire and impenetrable
matt of vines, briars, thorn bushes, &c, &c. Where this is not
the case, cane grows so large and thick that it is also impenetra-
ble; and the tallest trees ever seen by any person we have met
with yet, (and who have seen this thicket,) are found here.
Ascending the east fork of the San Jacinto about 40 miles,
we come to a thickly settled country. The farms here are in a
high state of cultivation, on which are grown, cotton, corn, rye,
potatoes, &c. This is in Montgomery county. The inhabitants
are an industrious, moral people, who have erected several
houses of religious worship, and established good schools.
The fork of the San Jacinto heads, near the town of Hunts-
ville, which is situated 12 miles south of Cincinnati. The aver-
age distance from San Jacinto river to the Trinity is about 30
miles. This county is also rapidly settling with an industrious
farming community. Towns are springing up, and stores, cotton
gins, mills, &c, are numerous enough for all necessities. This
region of country is not infected with the rotten lime stone
spoken of on the head of Lake creek, and the water is conse-
quently as pure, and the general health of the inhabitants is as
good as that of the inhabitants of any part of the United States.
Any person not acquainted wtih this section of country, and not
having witnessed the scene, would be utterly astonished, could I
inform them of the quantity of cotton raised and annually ship-
ped at Cincinnati for Sabine and Galveston cities.
There are many other tributaries of the San Jacinto from
this (the east) side. Sandy Creek is a beautiful stream for mills ;
and the land on either side is rich and well watered. The timber
is also very fine. There is also a large settlement on this creek.
The high lands in all this county are boggy in wet weather ;
that is, the country south of the San Antonio road to the Gulf
of Mexico, a distance varying from 175 to 200 miles.
The San Jacinto river is navigable for small class steam-
boats, a distance of 100 miles from its mouth, at all seasons of
BRAZOS RIVER— BRAZORIA, FORT BEND, AUSTIN,
WASHINGTON, MILAM AND BRAZOS COUNTIES-
CITIES OF VELASCO, BRAZORIA, RICHMOND, WASH-
INGTON, &c. &c.
The river Brazos empties into the Gulf of Mexico, southwest
of the city of Galveston, about forty miles. At the mouth of
the Brazos are situated the towns of Velasco and Quintana ; the
former on the east, and the latter on the west side. This river
runs through Brazoria, Fort Bend, and Austin counties, and is
the line between Montgomery and Washington, and Washington
and Brazos, and Robinson and Milam counties.
There are numberless tributaries to the Brazos on either
side, many of which are unworthy of notice, although they are
laid down on Hunt and Randell's map. I would here state that
there are many inaccuracies in this map, though as a chart of the
general face of Texas, it is tolerably correct.
Ascending the Brazos, the town of Brazoria, which is the
county seat of Brazoria county, is the first town of importance.
It is a fine flourshing town, and promises to be a formidable
rival of her commercial sisters. The country on either side of
the river, in this county, is about equally divided into bottom and
high land ; the latter being principally prairie, which is poor and
boggy; except that portion of it which borders on the bottoms.
The bottom land and the prairies for a distance of one or two
miles out from these bottoms are very rich. The river and creek
bottoms are very heavily timbered with live-oak of fine quality,
ash, hickory, pecan, &c, &c. This county is very thickly settled
and is a fine cotton growing country. Good water is very
scarce here, and it is unhealthy. Columbia, a large and fast im-
proving town, is near this river, and in this county ; and is about
fifteen miles from Brazoria. It was at Columbia that the first
Congress met under the present form of government, (i. e.) after
the adoption of the present constitution. Owensborough, and
Monticello, are two small towns, also on the Brazos river and in
this county, above Columbia.
Having ascended the Brazos about 80 miles, we come to Fort
Bend county. Richmond is the county seat of this county, and
is a flourishing place. Here, there is a paper published, and all
mechanical business is profitable. The soil, timber, water, &c,
&c, in this county, are so similar to that described in Brazoria
county, that we pass it by without any farther comment.
Next above is Austin county, of which San Phillippe De
Austin, is the county seat. It was here the Provisional Con-
gress first met and adjourned thence to Washington, where the
Declaration of Independence was signed. This county varies
very little, in soil, climate, &c, from the last named.
Still ascending this river, we now come to the county of
Washington. Washington City, where Congress has met for the
last two sessions, by proclamation of President Houston, (he
deeming Austin, the seat of Government, unsafe, from its
frontier location,) is a flourishing city. It now numbers about
3,000 souls, and is surrounded by a rich tract of country, which
is thickly settled by an industrious and wealthy community. The
city of Washington is destined to be one of the largest and most
pleasant cities in Texas. It is about 200 miles above the mouth
of the Brazos. There is now published at Washington city a
valuable and ably conducted paper, which is edited by the Hon.
Thomas Johnson, and has a wide circulation and an extensive
influence in Texas.
Mill creek, which empties into the Brazos, in Austin county
8 miles above San Phillippe De Austin, and heads in Washington
county, drains a large tract of excellent country. New Years
creek which also empties into the Brazos on the same side, but
in Washington county, about ten miles below Washington city,
also drains a fine section of country. On these two creeks are
large wealthy settlements. The soil here produces well, but is
difficult to cultivate on account of its tough waxy properties.
Here, too, rotten limestone like that spoken of on Lake creek,
is found to abound in large quantities, and as before stated, ren-
ders the water unpleasant and unhealthy.
All those counties, viz: Brazoria, Fort Bend, Austin and
Washington, are thickly settled by a wealthy, moral and indus-
trious population. The staple products of these counties are
cotton, corn, rye, potatoes, &c, which are raised in abundance.
Some of the farmers have tried the cultivation of sugar cane, and
have succeeded admirably; which removes all doubt of its be-
coming, at no distant day, one of the principal products of this
section of the country.
Opposite to Washington county, on the east side of the
Brazos, is Montgomery county, the largest portion of which has
been described. That portion of this county bordering on the
Brazos is also very rich, only small portions of which abound in
rotten limestone. About 35 miles east by southeast from Wash-
ington city, is the town of Montgomery, which is the seat of
Justice of Montgomery county. This town being near the edge
of the county, and consequently not well calculated for the seat of
Justice, has not improved much. The land in this county, border-
ing on the Brazos, is not unlike that described in Washington
About 25 miles northwest from the town of Montgomery
there is a fine blue Sulphur Spring, the waters of which is high-
ly recommended and much used for medical purposes. I should
have noticed that on the Trinity river, at the town of Carolina,
also in this county, there are as many as twenty two springs of
white and yellow sulphur, all within the space of half a mile.
There is also a valuable spring of blue sulphur at the town of
Immediately opposite the city of Washington, the Navasott
river empties into the Brazos. This river is the dividing line
between Montgomery and Brazos counties. Above the mouth
of the Navasott, about 12 miles, Yeawa creek empties into the
Brazos from the west side. This creek drains a large body of
excellent country. The town of Independence is situated on
this creek, and the settlement surrounding it, is said to be the
most wealth ysettlement in Texas. It is called Cole's settle-
Tenoxteland (an old Spanish Garrison,) is about 50 miles
above Washington. Between these places are several creeks,
and a fine country ; the timber and prairie being suitably inter-
spersed. Nashville (as well as the last named Garrison,) is in
Milam county, at the mouth of Little river, ten miles above
Tenoxteland. This is a very rapid stream, and drains an im-
mense tract of rich prairie country. Fine springs are found on
the tributaries of Little river, and timber is very scarce and in-
different. There are many fine mill sites on this river, and rock
in abundance, handy for building. This river heads in the Col-
orado mountains. These mountains run nearly to the Brazos
river. Basque river, some 50 miles above, also heads in the
same range of mountains. The country on the west side of the
Brazos, becomes very broken above the mouth of the Basque,
which description of country extends to Grand Prairie.
On the east side of the Brazos, and above the mouth of the
Navasott, Brazos county occupies a large territory. The Nava-
sott, is a dull heavy running stream. On the head of this river,
stood Port Parker, the capture of which the reader is already
well acquainted. This fort was about 45 miles west from Fort
Houston, and about 30 miles east of the Falls of Brazos. The
tributaries to the Navasott are beautiful streams; there are
many fine springs found on these creeks, and the land is rich.
This was my choice of all Texas ; where I located and built
Fort Parker, and it would be dissimulation in me to omit giving
it as my opinion that the country on the Navasott is the most
fertile, most healthy, and subject to fewer objections than any
other part of Texas. There are some springs in this section that
afford water enough to turn a mill. The timber is very large,
and of an excellent quality. The rock found along these
creeks, and which is abundant, is well adapted for building pur-
poses. The range for stock is not surpassed in any country.
There are many salt licks and game is plenty.
A few miles above Fort Parker, stands the remains of an
Indian town called Tiwackena, and here are the Tiwackena
springs. Near this place was fought the Tiwackena battle, on
the 11th of July 1844, between R. M. Coleman, with a company
of twenty-one men, and a band of the Tiwackena Indians num-
bering about 200. Coleman was defeated with the loss of one
man killed, and five wounded, one whom subsequently died. In
this battle, a Mr. Wallace was shot through the head and recover-
ed from his wounds.
West of Fort Parker, the Little Brazos has its head, and runs
parallel with the main Brazos at a distance of three or four miles.
Between these two streams is one large bottom, twenty-five miles
long, and is very rich. Little Brazos is not more than thirty-five
or forty miles long, and empties into the Brazos about thirty
miles above the mouth of the Navasott. There is a range of
prairie commencing at Fort Parker, and running on the high
ground between the Brazos and Trinity rivers, to the Cross Tim-
bers, being, in some places, from five to six miles wide.
The Aquella river empties into the Brazos about twenty
miles above the falls, and heads in the last named prairie, about
twenty-five miles north of Fort Parker. The tributaries of the
Aquella are much like those of the Navasott, there being many
fine springs found on them, and many of them fine mill streams.
The timber on these streams is also fine ; being principally oak,
ash, elm, walnut, pecan, &c. On the high ground there is con-
siderable live oak, which may also be found in many places below
this, on the Brazos. Near the mouth of the Aquella is the old
Wako Indian town, which is a beautiful site for a town.
Above this there are many considerable streams, tributaries
to the Brazos. At a very trifling expense, the Brazos river may
be rendered navigable for small steamboats for a distance of 500
miles above the falls; which would be from the Gulf about 800
miles. The principal head of the Brazos is in Grand Prairie,
and some of its head streams have their beginning in the Salt
Plains. During a flood in the Brazos, if it is produced by heavy
rains on these last named branches, the whole river is so impreg-
nated with salt as to be very perceptible to the taste.
Aquella river is a very rapid stream, and its waters are so
very clear, that the traveler cannot avoid lingering on its banks
to watch the beautiful ripples made by the swift passing waters
over the red pebbles, of which the bed of the river is principally
composed, and witness the playful revels of the numberless
perch, bass, red-horse, salmon and other fish, which may be seen
in the curling eddies of this crystal stream.
The Falls of the Brazos, of which mention has been made,
are about fifty miles above the city of Washington. At a very
high stage of water, these falls, like those on the Ohio river, may
be ascended and descended by steamboats of any capacity; but
in a moderate stage of water, they are an insurmountable ob-
struction to navigation, the fall being six feet perpendicular, in
the channel. Just above the falls is the town of Milam, which
is fast improving, and when the immense and rich country above
becomes settled, must be an important city.
The banks on either side of the Falls are admirably adapted
for a canal, and no doubt, one day or other, a canal will be made
around the Falls.
SAN BERNARD RIVER
This river empties into the Gulf of Mexico about twenty-five
miles southwest of the mouth of Brazos, and has its head in a
large poor prairie west of San Phillippe. In its way to the
gulf, it passes through a very rich region of country, which lies
in Matagorda and Brazoria counties. It is the dividing line be-
tween Fort Bend and Matagorda counties, and has its head in
Colorado county. The country on this river is now densely
settled, and the inhabitants grow large quantities of cotton and
sugar. It is believed that there is no land in he world that pro-
duces more cotton or sugar to the acre than this, nor of a better
quality. It is very heavily timbered with cypress, oak, pecan,
&c. It is (or was) an almost entire cane brake, from the San
Bernard to a creek called Old Cany. Lenville creek is a tribu-
tary of the Cany, and heads near the Colorado. The country on
either side of the San Bernard to the Brazos on the north, and
the Colorado on the south, is not surpassed in fertility by any
county in the United States.
Good water is not to be found here, and this region of coun-
try is decidedly unhealthy. Cotton grows here to an incredible
height, as also does sugar cane ; which latter is said to ripen two
feet higher than it does in Louisiana.
COLORADO RIVER— MATAGORDA BAY— MATAGORDA,
COLORADO, FAYETTE, BASTROP, AND BEXAR
COUNTIES— CITIES OF MATAGORDA, COLUMBUS,
LAGRANGE, COLORADO, BASTROP AND AUSTIN.
The Colorado river has its head in Grand Prairie, and mean-
ders, as it best can find its way, through a high mountainous
country for a distance of 300 miles at least, before it reaches a
rolling country, which commences in Fayette county, and passing
on pours its waters into Matagorda bay on the Gulf of Mexico.
It runs through Matagorda county. The city of Matagorda is
at the mouth of the river on the east bank, is a beautiful city and
numbers about 2,000 inhabitants. The land in Matagorda coun-
ty is so very similar to that just described on San Bernard river,
that I shall pass it by without further notice. I would mention,
however, the Matagorda bay is as notorious for the number and
size of the mosquitoes bred in its waters as it is for the quantity
of its oysters.
Jennings' and Jones' creeks empty into the Colorado in this
county on the west side. Ascending this river, we next come to
Colorado county, through which it passes nearly centrally.
Columbus, the county seat of Colorado county, is a fine flourish-
ing place, and is situated on the west bank of the river. There
are no streams of importance tributary to the Colorado in this
county. Near the river the land is generally fertile ; but much the
largest portion of this county is poor, particularly that on the
east side of the river. There is no good water in either of these
last named counties.
Fayette county next comes in order, as we ascend the
Colorado. Lagrange is the seat of justice. It is on the east bank
of the river, and is fast improving. The land is much better in
this, than in the two last named counties; being more rolling and
better watered. Ruterville is a flourishing little town, five miles
from Lagrange, and has a well regulated college established in it.
I have neglected to mention, that in all the thickly settled
portions of Texas, good schools have been established, and houses
of religious worship have been built ; and the morals of the
inhabitants are not surpassed by that of any community in the
The city of Colorado is on the west bank of the river, a few
miles above the town of Lagrange. Buckner's creek empties
its waters into Colorado river nearly opposite the latter place;
and Cummins , creek, which heads in this county, also empties
into the Colorado, near Columbus.
The face of the country, and quality of the soil, water and
timber, is very different in this county from that in Matagorda
and Colorado counties. Springs are numerous, and the land
being high and rolling, it is much more healthy. This county is
Next above comes Bastrop county, and the mountainous
country now commences. Berlison, Bastrop, and the city of
Austin are on the N. E. side of the river, all in Bastrop county.
The former is about 14 miles below the town of Bastrop, and Gen.
E. Burlison is the proprietor. The country around this place is
thickly settled, and the land rich and the climate healthy.
Bastrop is about 10 miles below the mouth of Welburger's
creek, and about 35 miles below the city of Austin. It is a
flourishing town, and has an excellent steam grist and saw mill,
several cotton gins, stores, taverns, and nearly all the different
branches of mechanical business is carried on. Business of every
kind appear prosperous, and Bastrop is destined, beyond a doubt,
to be a considerable place of business. It now numbers nearly
The city of Austin, in this county, and on the same side of
the Colorado, is the seat of Government of Texas. It is near the
Colorado mountains, and is, perhaps, as healthy a position as any
in the world. Its being so near the frontier, and in the neighbor-
hood of the Comanche Indians, .prevents it from improving very
fast ; but there is no doubt but it will be a large city so soon as
these hindrances to its growth are removed. There is a very
valuable paper published here at this time, which is edited by S.
Walnut creek empties into the Colorado from the west side,
a few miles below Bastrop. The town of Comanche is on this
side of the river just below Onion creek. About 25 miles above
Bastrop, on the west side of the river, there are many tributaries
to the Colorado ; but being small, we will pass them without fur-
ther notice. The country in this county is beautiful beyond
description. This is the first point in our description of Texas
that we meet with the mountains. Below the city of Austin
the county is tolerably thickly settled; but after passing a few
miles above, there are no settlements at all.
Ascending the Colorado, above Austin, the traveler meets
with an entirely different country from any that has been de-
scribed. Traveling on any of the rivers previously noticed, or
below this, on the Colorado, a person sitting on the* hurricane
deck of a steamboat, may (where the timber does not intervene,)
see over the face of the country, in some places, a distance of two
or three miles; but now ascending the Colorado, he comes to
perpendicular mountains of immense height.
This river has never been navigated, and it is doubtful
whether it ever will be, for the reasons that it is very rapid and
very rocky, and also very crooked. In many places it falls as
much as five or six feet in a distance of 30 or 40 yards. There is
a very large raft near its mouth, which might be removed at a
trifling expense, and then it might be navigable as high, perhaps,
as Columbus, in Colorado county. Those, however, who are
well acquainted with this river, and better acquainted with navi-
gation than I am, think it will never be navigated with any de*
gree of success.
As has been before stated, the city of Austin is near the foot
of a range of abrupt mountains on the east bank of the river.
These rugged mountains close in entirely to the bed of the river
in many places, thereby rendering them almost impassable.
North of this, however, there is an extensive tract of desirable
country. There are many beautiful tributaries in this country
above the mountains. Those coming in from the right hand, or
east side of this river, have their heads in the Grand Prairie, and
those on the left hand, or west side, head in the table lands north-
west of this range of mountains. Pierdenales river runs through
a mountainous country, and empties into the Colorado in these
Near the head of this river is what is called the "Enchanted
Rock." Much has been said about this rock. It stands entire-
ly to itself, and is about 200 feet high. (I must state, however,
that I know nothing of this singular rock myself, having never
been to it, and only state what those have told me, in whom I
have confidence; leaving the reader to draw his own inference
and come to his own conclusions as to the truth or falsity of the
tale.) It is said to be accessible only on one side, and that by
a natural flight of stairs winding around it to the top. It is said
that when a person approaches this rock, a singular light sur-
rounds him, the source of which cannot be discovered. It is also
said that when on this rock he is in involuntary motion, whilst
his ears continually saluted by strange sounds, as if many
persons were talking in different languages around him.
I am no believer in ghosts, hob-goblins or enchantments, and
nothing has induced me to give credit to any thing I have heard
about this "Enchanted Rock," but the highly creditable source
of my information. If all is true that I have heard about it,
when visited by the learned and curious, it will afford a wide
field for mysterious speculation.
San Saba river also heads in this range of mountains on the
west side of the Colorado, into which it empties its waters. On
the head waters of the San Saba there is much beautiful country,
which abounds in fine springs and large creeks. On the waters
of this river are the celebrated San Saba mines, which are
thought to be the richest and most extensive silver mines in the
world. They have been extensively worked, but by whom I know
not ; but from appearances, there have been thousands of pounds
of silver procured here ; and the millions that I believe yet remain
are incalculable. The ore is very rich, and I believe, entirely
inexhaustible, and very accessible. The day is not far distant,
when these and other valuable silver mines in Texas will be ex-
tensively and profitably worked. This range of mineral extends
in an easterly direction. I have discovered what I believe to be
this vein, at least 500 miles from the above named place; and
others are said to have discovered it in other places. In some
places in this region there are many appearances of gold.
These mines are in the Comanche range, and the warlike
disposition and deadly hostility of these Indians to the Texans,
has prevented them from taking advantage of the immense
wealth here available; but this obstacle will not, I think, exist
much longer ; for if there is not a treaty effected with these In-
dians very soon, there will be such a company raised for the pur-
pose of working these mines, as to bid defiance to all opposition
from that quarter.
There is an old trail leading from the city of San Antonio
across the heads of the Piedernales, San Saba, Rio Colorado de
Texas, Rio Aquilas, Rio Pisapejenova, Rio Pasigona, &c, &c,
to Santa Fe. This trace leads through the table lands which
are the heights between, and divide the waters of the Colorado
and Rio Grande. These table lands are known to but few. I
have traveled over the greater part of them, and should have
went farther, but for the difficulty of traveling. As far as I
have been into this table land country, (which I am told extends
to the Rio Grande,) there is such a similarity in it, that but few
remarks will suffice.
These table lands are a great curiosity. The traveler will
think himself on an interminable plain, but after progressing
some two or three miles, he will come to an abrupt perpendicu-
lar rocky cleft, some 10, 20 and others 50 feet high, which he
finds great difficulty in ascending. After having gained the top,
he finds himself on another apparently interminable plain, but
pursuing his journey, he soon comes to another obstruction, so
like the one just surmounted, that he is almost made to doubt
whether it is not the same. At other times he comes to these
projections and has to descend them, which he sometimes finds
more difficult than to ascend.
These levels are very rich, having a dark loam soil. The
timber is objectionable for its inferior quality, and is very
scarce. It is principally post oak, muskite, some little ash, elm,
and pecan. Spanish, persimmon, buckeye and mulberry.
There is not to be found, I am sure, in any part of the world,
purer water; nor do I believe there is a spot on the inhabitable
globe better calculated to insure good health and long life. Whilst
there, I did not see a single mosquito, tick or fly of any descrip-
tion. The atmosphere here is so pure, that I have killed buffa-
loes and the whole carcase would become dry and firm, if hung
up, before it would spoil.
If this region of country was not infested by hostile Indians,
it would be very soon settled; and when once settled and culti-
vated by civilized man, it will approximate to an earthly paradise,
as nearly as man could wish. I have no correct idea of the ex-
tent of this table land country, but have no doubt that it is as
large at the State of Indiana. These table lands lie about the
center of Bexar county, north of the Colorado range of moun-
To undertake to describe all the tributaries to the Colorado,
would swell this volume far beyond the limits I have prescribed
to it. Nor is it necessary, for they are so very similar, that a
description of one answers very well for all adjacent to it. Besides
this, although I have traveled over this vast region of country as
much, perhaps, as any other living man, there is much of it f hat
I have never yet seen, and in this history I have determined to
describe that country only which has come undei my own obser-
vation. Others have described many parts of Texas from second
hand information, and I have found it will not do, if the author
wishes to do justice either to the country or to his readers.
Trespalacios, a small Bayou that empties into Trespalacios
Bay, which runs into Matagorda Bay. The town of Tide Haven
is on the west bank of this bayou, some 15 miles from the bay.
Caranchua bayou, 12 miles west, also empties into the Matagorda
bay. Mustang's Navodad, and Labaca (or Cow) creeks form a
junction a few miles below the town of Texana, which is the
county seat of Jackson county, and empty into Labaca bay, which
also runs into Matagorda bay. The last named creek, (i. e.)
Labaca, is the western line of this county, dividing it from
In Jackson county, as in all the counties on the coast, the
lands bordering immediately on the coast, and tributary streams,
are very rich, while the high ground is poor boggy prairie. This
is a fine section of country for raising stock, the range being
most excellent. There are few fine springs in this county.
GUADALOUPE OR WAR LOOPE RIVER — ESPIREIN
SANTA BAY— SAN ANTONIO RIVER — REFUGIO,
VICTORIA— GOLIAD AND GONZALES COUNTIES-
CITIES OF VICTORIA, GONZALES, AND . SAN
The rivers Guadaloupe and San Antonio, form a junction
about 15 miles from Victoria city, and after passing a distance
of 14 or 15 miles form Espirein Santa bay. The county of Vic-
toria is on the east, and the county of Refugio, on the west of
Gaudaloupe river, it being the dividing line.
The city of Victoria is the county seat of Victoria county, is
a fine flourishing place, numbering near 4,000 inhabitants ; and
although it is much exposed to the hostile Indians, it has sustain-
ed itself, and is fast improving. This city stands immediately on
the east bank of the river Gaudaloupe, and is surrounded by a
The city of Refugio is the seat of justice of Refugio county
and stands on the east bank of the little river Copano, which
forms Copano bay. The town of Copano is on the head of this
bay, and like Refugio, has not improved much, on account of
their exposure to Indian depredations. When this obstacle is
removed both these places will rise to distinction.
There are three objections to these counties, viz: the timber,
water and soil. There is little timber in these counties except
what is found on the water courses, and that not only scarce, but
very indifferent. Some little post oak is sometimes found on the
high lands; elm, ash, pecan, &c, in the bottoms. Good water
is also very scarce, and can only be obtained by digging wells.
The soil is generally of a tough clay, sticky nature, and it is
difficult and even hazardous to travel over it at certain seasons
of the year, and cannot be cultivated in a wet season, owing to
its waxy quality. In some places, however, a sandy soil is found,
which like some of the sticky land produces well in a dry season.
Notwithstanding these objections, these counties are fast be-
ing populated by an industrious, enterpising people, who raise
fine crops of cotton, corn, &c. and any number of mules, horses,
cattle and hogs.
There are many other streams tributary to the bays and
rivers, in these two counties, as Carcitas, Union and Chocolate
bayous emptying into Labaca bay, in Victoria county ; and Coloto
river emptying into the Gaudalope, in the same county, whilst in
Refugio county are Melon, Aransas and Chiltipin bayous em-
ptying into Copano bay.
The county of Goliad lies next above Refugio through which
the river San Antonio passes. Goliad is the seat of justice, and
is situated on the west bank of this river, near the dividing line
between these counties. Here was fought the battle between the
•advance guard of Santa Anna's army, and the troops under Col.
Fannin. (This battle is noted under the head of "The Texas
Gonzales county lies next above this, through which the
Gaudaloupe passes. Gonzales is the name of the seat of Justice
of this county. It is situated on the east bank of the Gaudeloupe
river, and is a flourishing town. The river St. Marcos empties
into the Gaudaloupe just above Gonzales. About 25 miles above
this place, on the Gaudaloupe, is situated the flourishing town of
Sequin. This town was laid in ashes by Santa Anna, on his
march into Texas; but it has been rebuilt, and is now fast im-
There are many tributaries to the Gaudalope in this county.
The land in this county is of a much better quality than that in
the last mentioned counties. Good water is plenty, but timber
is scarce and generally very inferior, being post and red oaks,
ash, elm, and Pecan, some large cotton wood and white oak.
Muskite timber is found in abundance in some places in this
county ; and where this grows, Muskie grass is also found.
In this as well as many other parts of Texas, especially
Western Texas, the tough, sticky soil, before noticed abounds.
During a long drough, this sticky clay land will become very
hard and burst open, leaving chasms sometimes 20 feet deep, and
sometimes so wide that cattle and horses fall into them, making
it not only unpleasant but unsafe to ride through the woods, as
the grass grows very high, and falling over these chasms, con-
ceals them from view. When it rains these cracks close up and
leave the earth very uneven, forming what are called : :hog-wal-
lows." There are great numbers of poisonous snakes in every
part of Texas, but this is more infested with rattle snakes than
other parts of the country.
The St. Marcos and Gaudaloupe rivers head in the Colorado
mountains. In the forks of these rivers there is a bank of ising-
glass which is supposed to be the largest known of in any part
of the world. It is thought that there is mineral in that county.
West of this county lies San Antonio county through which
runs the San Antonio river. This river has its head in the
Colorado mountains. The city of San Antonio de Bexar lies
on this river. This is the place called the "Alamo," where so
many hard battles have been fought, and where fell the brave
Crockert, Travis, Bowie and their brave followers. It was
here the Col. B. Milam, with about 180 men, attacked Gen.
Cass, with an army of about 2,100 men, who were strongly-
garrisoned, and after a continued bombardment of several weeks
make him surrender.
There are numerous tributaries to the San Antonio on either
side in Goliad county; a few miles above the northern line of
which county, this river is formed by the junction of Medina
and Cibola rivers. On the former, there is much cypress timber
of a superior quality which is hauled to the city of San Antonio,
a distance of 20 miles, and used for building purposes. The
greater portion of this county, that is the inhabited portions of
it, is very much like the land described in Gonzales. The timber
is more indifferent and scarce, and the range better. The water
near the mountains is not surpassed in quality by any in the
world ; but as we descend the river, springs become scarce, and
the water not so good.
There is an abundance of the "hog wallow prairie" in this
region. After passing the mountains, which are narrow here,
the table land before described is found.
I expect there is as much territory in this, San Antonio or
Bexar county, as is in the State of Tennessee and Kentucky,
much the largest portion of which has never been explored, or
even seen by any white man, within my knowledge, and of course
only a very partial description can be expected. This fact is
established, however, beyond a doubt, that the most healthy
country known on the American continent is to be found in this
region. This county is about equally divided into mountainous,
rolling hilly and level land.
These mountains offer greater inducements to those who
wish to live a hermit's life, than any place I ever saw. Here far
from the range of man, in the most salubrious climate, breath-
ing the most healthful atmosphere, drinking the purest water,
and tilling the most fertile soil in the world, he could live alike
unknowing and unknown, free from the strife of this busy world.
This county extends west to the Rio Grande, north to the
northern boundary of Texas, and is bounded on the south by
San Patricio county, and is about 350 miles in width, and 800
in length, including the Santa Fee country. I should have stated
that in many other parts of Texas, as in this county, the greatest
variety and most beautiful flowers I ever saw, surpassing the
richest pleasure garden, grow on the prairies, as far as the im-
agination can conceive.
To enter into a description of all the different herbs, bushes,
&c, found growing on these prairies, would occupy too much
space. There are five or six different kinds of prickly pear
found here — some growing like vines, and running over the
bushes, which are covered with thorns. There are many kinds
of wild fruit found here that I never saw any where else, some
of which are very delicious. The vast region of country presents
a wide field for the naturalist and the geologist.
CORPUS CHRISTI BAY— LAGUNA DEL MADRE LAKE-
NUECES RIVER— SAN PATRICIO COUNTY.
Nuces river empties its waters into Corpus Christi bay,
which, with other tributaries from Lake Laguna Del Madre,
This river runs through the northeast corner of San Patricio
county, and divides this from Refugio county. The soil, timber,
&c, of San Patricio, differs so little from that already described
in other counties bordering on the coast, that I shall refer the
reader to a description of them, and ask him to apply it to this.
There are now no settlements in this county, never were but
few, and those have long since been deserted. San Patricio
county borders on the Gulf from Corpus Christi bay, to the
mouth of the Rio Grande, and thence runs up this river to the
town of Laredo, where San Antonio de Bexar county com-
mences, and contains as much territory as the State of Indiana.
There is a great salt lake in this county, differing very little
from those described by Mrs. Plummer in her narrative. The
quantity of salt annually taken away from this lake is incalcu-
lable, as it forms as fast as it is removed.
I have traveled but little through this county, and have
given a description of no country second handed. I must refer
my readers to other writers for a more minute description of
I have been to the Rio Grande at several different points,
and have found on its banks, and for a considerable distance out,
boggy, marshy country, by no means prepossessing. I also found
timber scarce, though there is a very large body of timbered
land below the road leading from San Antonio to the interior of
Mexico, which is said to be very rich.
The Rio Grande is the most turbulent stream for its size I
ever saw. Although as wide as the Mississippi in some places,
and wider in others, its current is much, more rapid, I should think
that a boat floating with the tide on the Rio Grande, would go a
distance of two miles in the same time it would go one on the
Mississippi. For this reason, I think it will never be profitably
navigated. It is also very crooked, running to every point of the
compass, in some places, in a distance of twenty miles.
The counties of San Patricio, Refugio, San Antonio, Goliad,
Victoria, Jackson, and Gonzales, have suffered more from ma-
rauding parties of Mexicans and Indians, than all the balance
of Texas, they being the most southwestern counties. They tiave
been entirely depopulated several times, and some of them will,
perhaps, never be permanently re-settled until Mexico acknow-
ledges the independence of Texas, and a final treaty of peace
is declared. Thus has a great part of Texas been kept an entire
wilderness, and much of it not even explored.
I now close this part of the geographical description of this
valuable and interesting country. The reader will observe that
I commenced with the extreme northeastern part of Texas,
bordering on the United States, and progressed regularly to the
southwestern part, bordering on Mexico; Red River being the
line from whence I started, and the Rio Grande the line where
I stopped. It will also be observed that I have taken the rivers
as they came in rotation, and ascending them to their heads, or
the northern boundary of Texas, have given such a description
of the intervening country as would be interesting to the reader,
or my space allow.
I shall now make a brief general view of the country, point-
ing out its advantages and its disadvantages ; and then pass on to
a brief history of the War, with which I shall close my portion of
GENERAL VIEW OF TEXAS
The face of Texas may be divided into four classes, viz:
level, rolling, hilly and mountainous.
1st. The level class is that portion bordering on the Gulf of
Mexico, which extends from the mouth of Sabine river to the
mouth of Rio Grande, a distance of 550 or 600 miles coast wise,
and varying in width from 40 to 80 miles. For a distance of a
half to three miles from the coast, the land is richer, higher and
dryer, with few exceptions, than it is farther out. After this high
land, just on the coast, there is a continued marsh, varying from
one to ten miles in width, the whole length of the coast, with a
few exceptions. Along this extensive marshy strip are innu-
merable ponds, lakes, bays, &c, in which are found fish and
fowl of nearly every kind, such as salmon, red-fish, porpoise,
shark, mullet, sea-turtle, oysters, crabs, shrimps, lobsters, &c,
&c, which are easily taken. Of wild fowl, there are swan, pel-
icans, geese, ducks of many kinds, sea-gulls, &c, &c. Egg
Island, a few leagues from Matagorda, takes its name from the
great number of eggs that may be found on it in the spring,
which are of many sizes and colors.
Along the coast it is generally shoal water, and at low tide is
a sand bar for miles. Many wrecks of vessels and boats, and
even very large trees are driven upon this coast by the sea surf,
which flows in very strong. Large poplar trees are often
washed ashore on this coast, especially at and near Sabine city,
which must have come down the Mississippi river.
The counties bordering on the coast, beginning at the mouth
of the Rio Grande are San Patricio, Refugio, Victoria, Jackson,
Matagorda, Brazoria, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, and Jefferson.
Galveston includes Galveston island. All along the coast, and
especially near the sea marshes, musquitoes are plenty, and the
climate unhealthy. Back of this marsh, extending to the rolling
land, are generally flat, boggy prairies, except the creek and
The staple products of this region of country is cotton,
though I think this will not be the case long, as the growing of
sugar cane is fast taking its place already. I am of opinion that the
growing of cotton will be confined to the second and third
regions of the country, and that this coast region will grow sugar
cane, rice, &c. Some are thinking of turning their attention to
the growing of coffee, in the coast country ; but I cannot speak
positively as to what success will attend it, but I have no doubt
it will be good.
Several orange orchards have been planted along the coast,
which, it is thought, will produce as well as any on the Island of
Cuba. Olive trees are also planted, and are growing well.
2nd. The rolling country extends from the above described
level country, back to the hilly country, to, or within the vicinity
of the San Antonio road, which leads from Nacogdoches, bearing
in a southwesterly direction to San Antonio, and thence to
the interior of Mexico. The following counties may be said to
embrace the rolling country. Beginning at Sabine river and
progressing southwestward, they are a part of Jasper, all of
Liberty, north part of Harris, south part of Montgomery, all of
Fort Bend, south part of Austin, south part of Colorado, south
part of Gonzales, north part of San Patricia, and south part of
San Antonio de Bexar.
This region of country may be divided into three classes :
1st. From the Sabine to the river San Jacinto. This range of
country is heavily timbered and tolerably well watered, is well
adapted for agriculture, and is densely settled. The principal
products of this part of the country are cotton, corn, rye, pota-
toes, &c. Fruit of nearly every kind is cultivated with ease, and
there are many orchards of fine fruit in this section.
2nd. This region of country lying between the San Jacinto
and Brazos rivers, is well watered, small prairies surrounded by
good timber, and has a rather better soil than that just described.
It is more densely settled, and, in addition to the productions
named above, sugar cane is beginning to be cultivated to some
3rd. We now pass to the western division of this country
lying between the Brazos and Rio Grande. Prairies now become
more frequent, and are of an inferior quality ; being mostly the
hog- wallow prairies, previously spoken of; good water and good
timber are both scarce. Many are of opinion that this descrip-
tion of prairie is more productive than the dry sandy-soil prairie,
but I am of opinion that this is not the fact.
All this region of country, here classed as rolling I think is
unhealthy, for this reason: During the spring, summer and
fall seasons of the year, the southern gales from the Gulf pass-
ing over this level land, and the stagnant marshes, lakes, ponds,
bays, and boggy lands, are impregnated with the unhealthy
effluvia arising from their surface, and the decomposed vegeta-
tion about them. As an evidence of this, mosquitoes are almost
as thick here in many places, as they are on the coast; they
having been blown out by this breeze.
3rd. We next come to hilly country, which is all of that
lying north of the rolling country, and south of the mountains,
and running parallel with the two first described, from the
Sabine to the Rio Grande. We will divide this into two classes :
first, that part lying east of the Brazos, and extending to Grand
Prairie, including Trinity Colony, and the Cherokee country;
and secondly, all west of the Brazos to the Rio Grande, and
extending from the rolling country to the Colorado mountians.
This region of country, east of the Brazos, I think the best
part of Texas. I would remark that though it is called hilly,
there is very little, if any of it that is too rolling for cultivation.
It is generally a high, healthy, well watered and well timbered
country. The timbered and prairie land is suitably interspersed,
and of a rich productive quality. Mill streams are numerous and
the range for stock is fine. Except in the mountain region of
country that is now under consideration, is the only part of Texas
where stone suitable for building is to be found. This region of
country, is free from mosquitoes, though ticks are numerous. Ex-
cept in very peculiar situations, such a thing as chills and fevers
are seldom heard of. This region of Texas is settling very fast,
though it is not so densly settled as the second class, but it is in-
creasing in population now, faster than the last mentioned class.
Many persons are annually moving from this second class to
the third class, or hilly country, now under consideration.
The product of this third region of country is much the same
as that in the second, with the exception of sugar cane, which
is not often attempted to be cultivated. This region reaches
into the buffalo range, and game of every description is more
plentifulhere than in the first described regions.
I have remarked that this region of country is not as thickly
settled; excepting a part of the counties of Fannin, and all
of Lamar, and Red River, which border on Red river, part of
Harrison, bordering on the State of Louisiana, all of Shelby,
Sabine and part of Jasper, lying on Sabine river; all San
Augustine, greater part of Nacogdoches and parts of Montgom-
ery, Robinson and Brazos, which are thickly settled.
Emigrants are pouring into Texas every day, by hundreds,
the most of whom are settling in the section of the country now
under notice. It is truly astonishing to see the improvements
going on in the above counties. Mills, propelled by water,
steam, horses, &c, are almost daily being built ; and cotton gins,
&c, &c. Many fine family mansions already add to the beauty
of the country and comfort of the owners; and the villages and
towns springing up — the good schools established, and the houses
of religious worship built, all give evidence of the rapid strides
of this flourishing young republic to prosperity and distinction.
In short, the whole country appears alive to improvement; and
it is only necessary that the political affairs of the country should
once be properly adjusted, confidence established, and in a few
years, a more prosperous, happy and virtuous people cannot be
found in the world, than Texas will boast.
It is, perhaps, proper to mention here, that it is the prevalent
opinion in Texas, that the seat of Government will finally be
located on the Brazos, or in the section of country which lies
east of the Brazos.
We will now cross the Brazos, and in this same range the
face of the country will be found entirely different from that just
described on the east side of this river. Here again commences
the tough, sticky soil before mentioned. The prairies are large,
and timber scarce; and with the exception of that portion of it
which is a part of and adjacent to the Colorado mountains, the
water is very indifferent.
In some places on the Little and Colorado rivers, there is
much cedar of a very fine quality, particularly on the latter,
above Bastrop. A part of this county is densely settled, as also
are parts of Washington, Milam, Brazos, Fayette and Gonzales.
Many are of opinion that this part of Texas, in point of soil
and climate, is superior to that described, in this range, east of
the Brazos; but I think differently.
All men are liable to think their own section of country the
most desirable; and it is as necessary that we should differ in
tastes and opinions, as that we should differ in our features.
Before I became interested in the prosperity of any particular
part of Texas, I examined and carefully considered the proper-
ties, advantages and disadvantages of the different portions of it
coming under my observation, and I then formed the same opin-
ions I now entertain of it, and that I have here given. I may err
in some immaterial points, but if I know myself, I am not in-
fluenced by prejudice.
4th. The mountainous country now claims notice ; and as I
have already given a description of the greatest part of them, I
scarcely know where to begin.
There are few mountains in Texas, east of the Brazos river,
and but few from this to the Colorado. West of the Colorado
running in an almost direct westerly direction are the Colorado
Northwest of this range of mountains are the rich table
lands previously described. There are in these mountains many
fertile valleys, which will make the most healthy residences in
the world. As before mentioned, there are many valuable mines
in these mountains, which will, at no distant day, be very pro-
fitably worked. This range of mountains continues in a westerly
direction until they cross the Rio Grande, and from thence they
take the name of Rocky mountains, which divide Texas and the
United States from the Californias and Oregon Territory.
Having concluded this brief geographical history of Texas, I
would remark that, as many persons have performed the same
duty, it seems that I should, in justice to myself, and those who
have written before me, conclude with a few explanatory re-
In the first place, it will be observed that I have avoided, as
far as possible, making sweeping declarations. I have endeav-
ored to do entire justice to Texas, in describing its soil, climate,
&c, whilst at the same time I have studiously avoided saying
any thing calculated to mislead those into whose hands this little
volume may fall, who now have determined, or may hereafter
conclude to emigrate to that country.
It appears to me that many persons, in giving a description
of a new country, are either ignorant of, or grossly callous to the
injuries they may inflict upon persons who are but little able to
bear them. Our location and the diversity of our pecuniary
situations, materially renders us an emigrating people. As the
older settled countries become populated, and large bodies of
lands are concentrated into the hands of those who are more
fortunate or more industrious and economical, the overplus, who
are, generally speaking, poor men, are compelled to seek new
homes in a new country; whilst others are influenced to do so
with the view of improving their fortunes.
Some historians, appear, when they visit a new country to
look at the bright side of every thing ; their information is gen-
erally second-hand, and procured from persons who are preju-
diced in favor of the country, or whose interest it is that it should
be speedily settled. These descriptions are, with few exceptions,
one sided, and calculated to deceive the reader.
I have read several descriptions of Texas, and in one sense,
they are correct, whilst in another they are incorrect. I will
here explain my meaning by a comparison. There grows in
parts of Texas a kind of a nut, which is beautiful in appearance,
and very rich and most delicious to the taste, but is very poison-
ous. Suppose I were to hand a number of these nuts to a
friend, and say, "here are some sweet delicious nuts/' and say
no more; and he were to eat them, as he certainly would, and
should die, would I not be held responsible for his death, both
by law and justice? I certainly would. So, also, should I feel
myself equally censurable, if, in giving a description of Texas,
either by request or voluntarily, I should tell all that was good
about it, and leave untold its bad qualities.
I flatter myself in the foregoing pages I have avoided
this great error of other writers ; whilst at the same time I have
detracted nothing from the high character of Texas for fertility
of soil and salubrity of climate. When I say that there is not a
country within my knowledge of the same extent of territory as
that of Texas, that has as much rich soil — that has a more gen-
eral healthy atmosphere — that is blessed with better water —
that has more beautiful lakes or richer landscapes — that has a
more extensive range for stock — or that surpasses her in com-
mercial, agricultural, or manufacturing advantages, I speak
truly. But I can, with equal truth, say, that within my know-
ledge, there is not a country of the same extent that has more
poor land ; that has a greater number of local causes of disease —
that has a larger portion of it that is without good water — that
has more unseemly and disagreeable swamps and ponds, or that
has more snakes, mosquitoes, ticks and flies than Texas. Having
been thus candid in my description, I feel confident that I shall
deceive no one. For my own part I am perfectly satisfied with
it, and would not exchange situations with any man living. All
my earthly interests lie in Texas, and my own prosperity is in-
separably connected with the prosperity of that country; which
finally depends upon its speedy settlement and improvement.
Yet, as much as I desire that, and as firmly convinced as I am,
that I have met with many persons in the United States whose
situations would be much improved were they to go to Texas,
in this description of it I have endeavored to place myself be-
yond the censure of those who may emigrate to that country, by
describing it as it is.
There are many improper impressions entertained by the
citizens of the United States, with regard to the morality of the
citizens of Texas. The opinion appears to prevail here, that
they are immoral, uneducated and intemperate people; and
some more ignorant, and therefore less culpable than others, are
pleased to denounce the citizens of Texas as a band of outlaws.
I have not unfrequently had my feelings hurt by hearing our
citizens denounced with such opprobrious epithets as outlaws,
thieves, robbers, &c. ; and have often been prevented from re-
senting it in a proper manner, by the insignificance, or pitiable
ignorance of those who used them. When I say insignificance*
I mean those who are a disgarce to themselves, and a nuisance
in. community ; and by the ignorant, I mean those with whom
nature has dealt sparingly in bestowing her best gift to man —
common sense — for none others would thus slander a people of
whom they are ignorant. But what am I doing? I sincerely
beg pardon of the high-minded, intelligent and noble-souled citi-
zens of my adopted country for this uncalled for defence of their
character; and I hope my readers will excuse my inadvertence
in stooping to notice such filth.
Of the people of Texas I can say what all who are acquainted
with the character of its citizens will bear me witness in, viz:
that they are, taken as a mass, as intelligent, moral and temper-
ate a people as is found in any country in the world. True, as
in all countries, there are many intemperate and unworthy citi-
zens in Texas, but no more not even as many, according to the
population, as are found in other countries.
There is scarcely a town, or thickly settled neighborhood in
Texas, that there is not an organized church and a temperance
society established. Good schools are established in every
neighborhood of sufficient size to support one ; and several flour-
ishing colleges are in successful operation in the principal cities
and towns. In these places literary societies of high stand-
ing are in existence, and the arts and sciences are liberally
THE TEXAS WARS
There is perhaps no country of the same age, that has suf-
fered more from the calamities of war than has this young
republic. Long before Mexico attempted to rivet the chains of
despotism upon her citizens, they were continually harrassed by
the hostile bands of Indians within her borders. The encroach-
ments of the Indians, however, were confined to that part of the
country West of. the Brazos, until the beginning of the year 1836,
or until the commencement of the war between Texas and
Mexico ; when they, aided and abetted by the Mexicans, extended
their depredations east of the Brazos river.
Until February 1835, the Indians labored under the im-
pressions, that the Americans residing west of the Brazos, in the
Colorado country, were an entirely different race from those
residing east of the Brazos, and would make war upon those on
the Colorado, whilst they would treat with and were friendly to
those residing on the east of the Brazos. In February 1835,
there was a treaty held with 12 of the principal chiefs of the
hostile Indians, by Maj. Sterling C. Robertson, Maj. J. G. W.
Pierson, and myself, on the part of Texas, at which we convinced
them that they had been in error, and they stipulated to act peace-
fully towards the western settlers in future. These treaty stipu-
lations were faithfully complied with until 1836, when hostilities
were recommenced, through the influences above mentioned.
The Mexican government had a line of garrisons, stationed
as follows : One at Velasco, one at Nacogdoches, under the com-
mand of Cols. Pedros and Bean, one at Anahuac, under Col.
Bradburn, (who was an American, and I think a Kentuckian by
birth,) and one at Tenoxteland. The regular troops stationed
at these garrisons were continually committing depradations
upon the civil citizens in their neighborhoods, by stealing their
poultry, hogs, and in short every thing they needed at their
garrisons. In addition to this annoyance, the officers were very
overbearing and cruel to the citizens, with which they forebore
until forbearance ceased to be a virtue.
Col. Bradburn, commanding the garrison at Anahuac, was
particulatly tyranical, and in the spring of 1831, a Col. Jack, a
private citizen, happened to offer some trifling insult to Col.
Bradburn, who had him arrested and imprisoned, where he was
most barbarously treated. This aroused the citizens to a point
they could no longer endure, and having procured an old field-
piece, (one perhaps that had been in the service of La Fitte, and
was picked up on the coast,) they fitted it upon a pair of cart
wheels, and having gathered a promiscuous company, some 200
or 300 strong, marched down to Anahuac. About 24 hours be-
fore they reached the garrison, Col. Bradburn had started a
schooner, with Col. Jack to Mexico, to stand his trial, for the
trifling insult offered him. The Mexican laws were such, that
the least insult offered one of her military officers was con-
sidered treason, and punished by death.
Providence however interfered in this case; as a strong
head-wind set in soon after the vessel started, which increased to
a heavy gale, and in spite of the efforts of the crew, she was
driven back into the bay, just as the little army reached the place.
A hard fought battle now ensued, in which the garrison was
defeated, and Col. Jack released. Col. Bradburn, and his sur-
viving troops were permitted to live, provided they would im-
mediately leave the country, which they did.
, A part of this little army returned to their families, whilst
the remainder, which was recruited by boys, (some of whom were
not more than 14 years of age,) marched on to attack the garri-
son at Velasco, at the mouth of Brazos river. This garrison was
also defeated, and the troops stationed there were also required
to leave the country, which they did. This little army now dis-
banded and returned to their homes.
This chastisement of the insolence and dishonesty of the
Mexicans caused the troops and officers still remaining in the
country, to alter their course of conduct; and things went on
tolerably well until 1833, when the troops stationed at Nacogdo-
ches, presuming upon their strength, (there being stationed
there, at that time, a regiment of dragoons,) began again to
take unwarranted privileges, and to treat the American citizens
tyranically. This again aroused the blood of the Texans, and a
force was soon raised to drive the Mexicans from the country.
The Texans fortified themselves in a large stone house within
gun shot of the garrison, and it was two or three days before the
Mexican troops were forced to evacuate the place. After the
loss of several men, they, under the cover of night, left the gar-
rison, but were pursued and overtaken at Angalana river, where
many of them were killed, the Texans not losing a single man.
All the Mexican garrisons in Texas were now deserted, and all
went on amicably until 1835.
For a year or two previous to this time a revolution had
been going on in Mexico, in which Texas took no part ; but this
revolution having been brought on by Santa Anna, for the pur-
pose, as he and his friends declared, of establishing a more re-
publican form of government, the Texans were in favor of his
success. He did succeed; and instead of a republican form of
Government, a despotic government was established, and he had
himself declared Dictator for life. Now enthroned in power,
influenced and dictated to by the Priesthood of Mexico, he set
about removing all obstacles to his continuance in power ; the
most formidable of which was the rifles of the people. It was
therefore necessary that they should be disarmed, and that strong
standing armies should be kept up to keep them so. In addition
to this, heavy and insupportable taxes were levied to support
these standing armies, and church tythes were also levied to sup-
port her indolent priesthood.
Texas now despatched a special minister (Gen. Stephen F.
Austin,) to remonstrate against these grievances, who was seized
and imprisoned; and Gen. Coss, with 2,100 men, was despatched
by Santa Anna to Texas to enforce these despotic laws.
Gen. Coss was met at San Antonio de Bexar, by Gen. Bur-
leson, with about 600 men ; Coss had garrisoned himself in the
Alamo, and a bombardment was commenced and kept up by
Gen. Burleson for several days, when his ammunition being
nearly exhausted and his troops worn out, he ordered a retreat.
Col. Benj. Milam, who had recently escaped Mexican captiv-
ity, (having the marks of his galling chains yet upon him,) was
not willing to raise the siege, and called upon the men under
his command to stand by him, and he would yet defeat the enemy.
About 160 or 170 obeyed his call, and he, with this handful of
brave followers, continued the siege, and after a bombardment
of four days, Gen. Coss and all his army surrendered at discis-
sion. The brave and heroic Col. Milam fell during this siege, as
well as three of his brave followers. The loss on the Mexican
side was very great.
Gen. Coss and his army declared for the republican con-
stitution, and pledged themselves to its support, they were dis-
charged on parol. This was in October 1835.
At this time, the Texas Provisional Congress was in session,
and as before mentioned passed laws for the temporary govern-
ment of Texas, and declared for the Republican Constitution of
Mexico, which Santa Anna had succeeded in overthrowing. In
this Texas confidently expected to be joined by the republican
party that had just been defeated in Mexico ; but they now being
all disarmed and their leaders discouraged, they failed to do so.
On the return of Gen. Coss to Mexico, he met Santa Anna
at the head of 10,000 troops, chosen men, on his way to wage
a war of extermination against Texas. Coss, and his troops
joined Santa Anna, and notwithstanding their pledge to the con-
trary, took up arms against Texans, and in favor of the dictator.
Early in the spring of 1835f ; Santa Anna reached San
Antonio de Bexar, where was garrisoned, in the same Alamo,
Coss had surrendered, Cols. Travis, Bowie and Crockett, with
about 180 men. The Alamo, after a severe and bloody battle,
was defeated, and every one of its brave defenders inhumanly
Mrs. Dickerson, the wife of Capt. Dickerson, who fell in the
Alamo, was sent on by Santa Anna, in company with Col.
Travis' servant, to herald the news of the defeat of the Alamo,
which soon spread through the country; and the force under
Santa Anna, which though large, being greatly over-rated, the
inhabitants were thrown into consternation, and the whole coun-
try, as it were, fled before the enemy. Gen. Houston was now
raising an army, which, by the 15th of April, numbered about
2,000 men, all volunteers.
About the 20th of March, a part of Santa Anna's army at-
tacked Goliad, where Col. Fannin, with about 300 men was
stationed, who, after a brave and desperate defence, were forced
to retreat. The enemy pursued and overtook Fannin and his
army a few miles from Goliad, where they were all slain or taken
prisoners. The prisoners, among whom was Col. Fannin, al-
though they v/ere told they should be treated as prisoners of war,
were afterwards inhumanly butchered.
This second defeat added new terror to the almost defence-
less inhabitants, and to describe the scene that now ensued would
occupy many pages. The men were flocking around their coun-
try's standard, whilst the women and children were deserting
their homes and fleeing in despair to the interior settlements and
cities. Some with a sled and a pair of oxen, others with a small
wood-wagon, and a few with carts, into which they had thrown
such of their household effects as they most needed. The rivers
and creeks being full from the spring flood, the progress of the
fleeing women and children was both tedious and dangerous.
In many places, they were compelled to travel in water two or
three feet deep for several miles. Many of them lost their
horses and oxen by their being bogged ; whilst others were com-
pelled to throw away their little effects, in order to lighten their
loads so as to be able to progress at all.
It is impossible to describe, fully, the heart-rending scene
that was here presented. Santa Anna's army burnt the houses of
the citizens,, killed their stock, and destroyed every thing before
them, leaving behind nothing but desolation.
Gen. Houston was at Gonzales when the Alamo was defeated,
and as the Mexican army advanced, he found it expedient to re-
treat, until he had passed the Colorado river, and from thence to
the Brazos river. During this retreat his men were deserting by
hundreds,* so that his army was reduced to less than 1000 men.
Whilst on the Brazos, Gen. Houston heard that Santa Anna
had crossed the Brazos below, and was on his way to Galveston.
He now ordered a forced march, and on the 19th of April, reach-
ed within a few miles of the Mexican army, which was en-
camped in the forks of San Jacinto river and Buffalo Bayou.
Gen. Houston encamped within sight of the Mexican army, and
for two days there was some firing between them, but no serious
fighting. On the morning of the 21st, Gen. Rusk went to Gen.
Houston and told him that unless the battle was fought that day,
they would not have 100 men left; the army being now reduced
to six hundred and fifty or seven hundred, and the men hourly
About two o'clock that day, Gen. Houston, having made
every arrangement, headed his little band of brave hearted men,
and, "ALAMO and FANNIN," being the watch-ward, they
charged upon the enemy like hungry lions, and pouring a deadly
fire into their ranks, strewed the ground with the slain. The
first fire was returned, but without effect. On went the brave
Texans until they reached the enemy's breast-works, which they
mounted, and their deafening huzzas for victory were soon
drowned by the simultaneous roar of their second fire. The
Mexican army was completely over-awed, and as the Texans
rushed upon them, pistol and knife in hand, they gave way. A
promiscuous slaughter now ensued. Santa Anna, it is believed,
*It is, perhaps, proper and necessary that I should, in justice to many
of the unfortunate deserters, remark that many of them had wives and
children; and as the army was retreating, they found their homes deserted;
then wives and little children having fled, whither they knew not: and it
was to seek and relieve them that they deserted, and not from cowardice or
any want of patriotism.
fell among the slain, and pretended to be dead, until the Texan
army passed over them in pursuit of the retreating Mexicans,
and then took to the prairies.
On account of the sudden and desperate attack made upon
the Mexicans they did not run far, but fell upon their knees and
begged for quarters. So exasperated were the Texans, that they
could not be governed, but rushed upon them, and many were
cut down before the officers could interfere, and stop the slaugh-
ter. There were about 800 of the enemy left dead on the ground,
and about 800 taken prisoners, whilst Gen. Houston had only
two men killed and four or five wounded. Upon this battle hung
the destinies of Texas, and by it was gained her independence.
There appears to be an impression in the minds of many, that
the conduct of Gen. Houston, previous to, and during this battle,
was both reprehensible and cowardly. Much has also been said
on this subject, through the public press, which was calculated
to confirm this impression.
At the time of the battle, I was at Parker's Fort, and of
course can say nothing as to his conduct, of my own knowledge ;
but from a personal and intimate acquaintance with Gen. Hous-
ton of 15 years, I can confidently assert, what, I believe not a
single man who knows him, or who was in this battle will deny,
that he is not a coward! and, with the exception of a few of
his enemies, all agree that God never made a braver man.
It is true that Gen. Houston's conduct in retreating before
the enemy had the appearance of indiscretion ; but he knew what
he was about, and it is now confidently believed that had he
gone into this battle sooner than he did, he would have been de-
feated. His conviction of this fact, and the great responsibility
he felt, induced him to act as he did, and by thus acting, he
gained the independence of Texas, saved his brave men from
slaughter, and preseved the inhabitants from a war of extermi-
nation, which Santa Anna had declared it should be.
There are other insignificant charges against the character
of this great and good man, which it is not my purpose to notice
— neither is it necessary, for Gen. Houston, like the illustrious
Washington, may truly be said to be "first in war — first in peace,
and first in the hearts of his countrymen." Gen. Washington
had his enemies — so has Gen. Houston. Gen. Washington's
name is treasured in the hearts of his countrymen, whilst the
names of his traducers are forgotten, or are only remembered as
by-words. The same will be the case with Gen. Houston. Long
after the names of his enemies have sunk into oblivion, his will
be fresh in the minds of the patriots and freemen of every
clime, and cherished with feelings of gratitude in all time by
those who will reap the benefit of his valor.
Gen. Houston's moral character, may, in past times, have
been censurable, but with this exception, (and all men have had,
at some period of their lives, objectionable traits in their charac-
ter) he has occupied a position far beyond the poisonous arrows
of malice, and the unholy vituperations of envy. For morality
and sobriety, he now stands as high as any man in any country.
As a husband, one of the most accomplished and estimable ladies
in the world, bears evidence of his affection and care — as a
neighbor, there are none who have had the opportunity, but have
been the recipients of his kindnesses and good offices, and as a
friend, none are more sincere and valued. But to return from
Santa Anna, as before mentioned, finding that the brave
Texans had overpowed his vandal followers, hastily prepared
himself with a soldiers dress and fled through the prairie. He
remained out on leg bail until the following day, when Mr. Silves-
ter, from the State of Ohio, with a few other men, found his
dictatorship snugly ensconsed in a marsh. When he was taken,
his captors charged him with being Gen. Santa Anna, but he
protested he was not. He had unfortunately, however, in ex-
changing his clothing, neglected to change his shirt, and he was
asked if the Mexican soldiers wore as fine shirts as the one he
had on? He now confessed, with tears in his eyes, that he was
one of Santa Anna's Aids, and begged to be taken to Gen.
Houston. To this timely foresight, in becoming an aid instead of
being a general, he owes his life.
How changed — what a ridiculous aspect did this great
General and Dictator of Mexico, present. But a few days since,
and arrayed in all his grandeur, he urged his servile troops on to
the most inhuman butchery of the brave Crockett, Travis, Bowie
and others, at the Alamo — but yesterday, as it were, and he
stood in security, amidst his Aids, and ordered, and looked with
coolness upon the slaughter of Fannin and his men — and now
he stands, covered with filth and dirt, a poor suppliant for his
life, at the hands of an inferior officer of the Texas army.
When Santa Anna was brought before Gen. Houston, he
received him and treated him in that manner his station, as a
prisoner of war, demanded. After retaining him for a month or
two, as a prisoner of war, he was permited to return to Mexico.
How differently would he have treated Gen. Houston, had the
god of war reversed their situations; he, no doubt, would have
had him shot, in a few hours after the battle. The heart of
a brave man never delights in cruelty to his vanquished foe, but
the heart of a coward does.
Peace being once more restored in Texas, the citizens again
returned to their homes. Many found their houses a heap of
ashes, their horses, cattle and hogs, either driven off, or killed.
It was truly distressing to witness the return of the unfortunate
inhabitants to their now desolate homes. I say it was distressing,
because of the contrast they now presented, to their appearence
when they left them a few weeks past. Then they left comfort-
able houses, farms well stocked and fine crops growing, all
giving promise of comfort, plenty and happiness — they now re-
turned to take shelter under a temporary shed, whilst many of
them had no bed but the cold ground, and their only shelter, the
arched canopy of heaven — their pastures were herdless, and
their crops destroyed.
It is easy for the reader to conjecture what was the pecun-
iary condition of Texas at this time. Like her mother republic,
the United States, when she threw off the yoke of British bond-
age, she was poor indeed ; but the eagle of liberty was now hover-
ing over this "lone star republic," and cheered on her hardy
sons and daughters in their darkest hours of despair, 'til, through
the merciful beneficence of a kind Providence, they are once
more surrounded by most of the comforts and blessings of this
Since the battle of San Jacinto, there has been no very
serious disturbance between Mexico and Texas. Under the ad-
ministration President Miraubo B. Lamar, an expedition was
fitted out to go to Santa Fe, in order to extend the jurisdiction
of Texas over it. This expedition was under the command of
General McLeod. He had progressed as far as the northwestern
table-lands, where, having divided his company, which number-
ed about three hundred men, he was defeated, and all his men
either killed or taken prisoners. This, with the exception of
the disturbances from a few marauding parties of Mexicans
that now and then came into the western frontiers, but soon re-
turned without commiting serious injury, are all the difficulties
this country has experienced since the battle of San Jacinto.
There remain but two obstacles to the immediate rapid pro-
gress of Texas to wealth and greatness, and these will no doubt
soon be removed, viz: the hostility of the Indians and opposi-
tion of Mexico to her independence. That permanent and honor-
able treaties will soon be formed with the former, and that the
latter will ere long acknowledge her independence, there is no
There has been much said, and much continues to be said,
both in the United States and Texas, on the subject of annex-
ing the latter to the former. What may be the final result of
the negotiations now pending between the two governments on
that subject, can not be foreseen — nor is it of much importance
to the Republic of Texas how it is decided. The day has been,
when the citizens of Texas were anxious to be annexed to the
United States ; but it is now getting late in the afternoon of that
day. They look upon the United States as their common parent.
There are few of her citizens, who are not bound to the United
States by the strongest ties of affection — it was here they were
born, and here they now have many near and dear relatives and
friends — it was here that they first breathed the uncontaminated
atmosphere of freedom and independence, and it was here they
imbibed that spirit which caused them to resist the encroach-
ments of despotism upon their adopted soil, and nerved their
arms upon the field of battle. It was in defense of those prin-
ciples of republican liberty, which they sucked from their
mothers' breasts, that led them to enrich, with their blood, and
whiten with their bones, the plains of Goliad, San Antonio,
and San Jacinto. But whilst the indomitable citizens of the
Lone Star Republic will emulate the virtues, honor the high
standing, and rejoice at the prosperity of their mother republic,
they will never, NO, NEVER ! pay a vile obeisance to any power
upon earth, in order to secure their alliance or gain their favor.
The fate of the treaty now under consideration, will decide the
question of annexation once and forever, so far as Texas is con-
cerned. The morn of her greatness has already dawned, and the
sun of her glory will soon rise in all its beauty and grandeur.
The best land route to Texas from the western parts of
Missouri, Arkansas and Wisconsin, is through Arkansas by way
of Van Buren and Fort Smith to the Military Road. Thence,
through the Choctaw nation* to Fort Towson.
From the eastern parts of these and all north, the emigrant
should cross the Mississippi at St. Genevieve, taking the follow-
ing places in his route : St. Michael, Batesville, on White river,
and Little Rock, to Washington in Hemsted county, Arkansas.
Emigrants from the Eastern or Southern States, should
cross Red river at either of the following points : Alexandria,
Natchitoches, or Shreveport .
In going by sea to eastern Texas, ship at New Orleans for
Sabine city; to Middle Texas, for Galveston; to Western Texas,
for Matagorda, Linville, or Live Oak Point.
The time at sea, in going to Sabine city, is six hours ; to Gal-
veston, thirty-six hours; to Matagorda, sixty hours.
* The Chottaw Indians are perfectly friendly, and some of them are
very wealthy. Some white men have married among these Indians who
cultivate large farms. They boast that they have never shed the blood of
a white man. The facilities for obtaining provisions of all kinds, are abund-
Narrative of the Capture and
Mrs. Rachel Plummer
During a Captivity of Twenty-one Months Among
The Comanche Indians; With a Sketch of
Their Manners, Customs, Laws,
A Short Description of the Country Over Which
She Traveled Whilst With the Indians.
Written By Herself.
Mrs. Rachel Lofton, Greatgranddaughter of James W. Parker,
owner of the Trusty Rifle, spoken of in the little
book, with the rifle in hand.
In my preface to the first edition of this narrative, I promis-
ed a second edition, should the first meet with public patronage.
The patronage extended to it has far exceeded my most sanguine
expectations, for which I embrace the present opportunity to
return my most sincere thanks to my friends and the public in
general. In redemption of my promise, I present this second
edition, revised and corrected, confidently anticipating the favor-
able consideration and renewed patronage of a generous public.
I hope it is unnecessary to ask my readers to throw over my
awkward phraseology, ungrammatical sentences, and uncouth
style, the veil of charity, as they cannot but recognize, at once,
my want of education and practical experience in writing.
Should this humble narrative be read with a critic's eye, and feel-
ing injustice will be done me, and the object I have in view, in
again appearing before the public will fail of being attained, viz :
1st. To make the reader acquainted with the manners and
customs of the largest nation of Indians upon the American con-
tinent. 2nd. To warn all who are, or may be placed in a situa-
tion where they may be liable to fall a prey to savage barbarity,
of what I have suffered, and thus induce them to avoid my fate ;
whilst at the same time I hope to excite a sympathy for those
who are now, or hereafter may be prisoners among the Indians,
and thus induce greater efforts for their release. 3rd. To
briefly describe a country, yet known to but few of my readers,
and which is destined, at no distant day, to excite much interest
among the inhabitants of the United States and Texas.
With these remarks, I submit the following pages to the
perusal of a generous public, feeling assured that before they are
published, the hand that penned them will be cold in death.
City of Houston, Texas, Dec. 3, 1839.
On the 19th of May, 1836, I was living in Fort Parker, on
the head waters of the river Navasott. My father, (James W.
Parker,) and my husband and brother-in-law were cultivating
my father's farm, which was about a mile from the fort. In the
morning, say 9 o'clock, my father, husband, brother-in-law, and
brother, went to the farm to work. I do not think they had left
the fort more than an hour before some one of the fort cried out,
"Indians !" The inmates of the fort had retired to their farms
in the neighborhood, and there were only six men in it, viz : my
grandfather, Elder John Parker, my two uncles, Benjamin and
Silas Parker, Samuel Frost and his son Robert, and Frost's son-
in-law, G. E. D wight. All appeared in a state of confusion,
for the Indians (numbering something not far from eight hund-
red) had raised a white flag.
On the first sight of the Indians, my sister (Mrs. Nixon,)
started to alarm my father and his company at the farm, whilst
the Indians were yet more than a quarter of a mile from the fort,
and I saw her no more. I was in the act of starting to the farm,
but I knew I was not able to take my little son, (James Pratt
Plummer.) The women were all soon gone from the fort,
whither I did not know; but I expected towards the farm. My
old grandfather and grandmother, and several others, started
through the farm, which was immediately adjoining the fort.
Dwight started with his family and Mrs. Frost and her little
children. As he started, uncle Silas said, "Good Lord, Dwight,
you are not going to run? He said, "No, I am only going to try
to hide the women and children in the woods." Uncle said,
"Stand and fight like a man, and if we have to die we will sell
our lives as dearly as we can.
The Indians halted ; and two Indians came up to the fort to
inform the inmates that" they were friendly, and had come for
the purpose of making a treaty with the Americans. This in-
stantly threw the people off their guard, and uncle Benjamin
went to the Indians, who had now got within a few hundred
yards of the fort. In a few minutes he returned, and told Frost
and his son and uncle Silas that he believed the Indians intended
to fight, and told them to put every thing in the best order for
defence. He said he would go back to the Indians and see if
the fight could be avoided. Uncle Silas told him not to go, but
to try to defend the place as well as they could ; but he started
off again to the Indians, and appeared to pay but little attention
to what Silas said. Uncle Silas said, "I know they will kill
Benjamin;" and said to me, "do you stand here and watch the
Indians' motions until I run into my house" — I think he said for
his shot pouch. I suppose he had got a wrong shot-pouch as he
had four or five rifles. When uncle Benjamin reached the body
of Indians they turned to the right and left and surrounded him.
I was now satisfied they intended killing him. I took up my
little James Pratt, and thought I would try to make my escape.
As I ran across the fort, I met Silas returning to the place where
he left me. He asked me if they had killed Benjamin. I told
him, "No; but they have surrounded him." He said, "I know
they will kill him, but I will be good for one of them at least."
These were the last words I heard him utter.
I ran out of the fort, and passing the corner I saw the In-
dians drive their spears into Benjamin. The work of death had
already commenced. I shall not attempt to describe their terrific
yells, their united voices that seemed to reach the very skies,
whilst they were dealing death to the inmates of the fort. It can
scarcely be comprehended in the wide field of imagination. I
know it is utterly impossible for me to give every particular in
detail, for I was much alarmed.
I tried to make my escape, but alas, alas, it was too late, as a
party of the Indians had got ahead of me. Oh! how vain were
my feeble efforts to try to run to save myself and little James
Pratt. A large sulky looking Indian picked up a hoe and
knocked me down. I well recollect of their taking my child
out of my arms, but whether they hit me any more I do not know,
for I swooned away. The first I recollect, they were dragging
me along by the hair. I made several unsuccessful attempts to
raise to my feet before I could do it. As they took me past the
fort, I heard an awful screaming near the place where they had
first seized me.* I heard some shots. I then heard uncle Silas
shout a triumphant huzza ! I did, for one moment, hope the men
had gathered from the neighboring farms, and might release me.
I was soon dragged to the main body of the Indians, where
they had killed uncle Benjamin. His face was much mutilated,
and many arrows were sticking in his body. As the savages
* I think Uncle Silas was trying to release me, and in doing this he
lost his life; but not until he had killed four Indians.
passed by, they thrust their spears through him. I was covered
with blood, for my wound was bleeding freely. I looked for my
child but could not see him, and was convinced they had killed
him, and every moment expected to share the same fate myself.
At length I saw him. An Indian had him on his horse ; he was
calling, mother, oh, mother! He was just able to lisp the name
of mother, being only about 18 months old. There were two
Comanche women with them, (their battles are always brought
on by a woman,) one of whom came to me and struck me several
times with a whip. I suppose it was to make me quit crying.
I now expected my father and husband, and all the rest of
the men were killed. I soon saw a party of the Indians bringing
my aunt Elizabeth Kellogg and uncle Silas' two oldest children,
Cynthia Ann, and John ; also some bloody scalps ; among them
I could distinguish that of my grandfather by the grey hairs,
but could not discriminate the balance.
Most of the Indians were engaged in plundering the fort.
They cut open our bed ticks and threw the feathers in the air,
which was literally thick with them. They brought out a great
number of my father's books and medicines. Some of the books
were torn up, and most of the bottles of medicine were broken ;
though they took on some for several days*
I had few minutes to reflect, for they soon started back the
same way they came up. As I was leaving, I looked back a^
the place where I was one hour before, happy and free, and now
in the hands of a ruthless, savage enemy.
They killed a great many of our cattle as they went along.
They soon convinced me that I had no time to reflect upon the
past, for they commenced whipping and beating me with clubs,
&c, so that my flesh was never well from bruises and wounds
during my captivity. To undertake to narrate their barbarous
treatment would only add to my present distress, for it is with
feelings of the deepest mortification that' I think of it, much
less to speak or write of it; for while I record this painful part
of my narrative ; I can almost fell the same heart-rending pains
of body and mind that I then endured, my very soul becomes
sick at the dreadful thought.
* Among them was a bottle of pulverized arsenic, which the Indians
mistook for a kind of white paint, with which they painted their faces
and bodies all over, after dissolving it in their saliva. The bottle was
brought to me to tell them what it was. I did not do it, though I knew
it, for the bottle was labeled. Four of the Indians painted themselves
with it as above described, and it did not fail to kill them.
About midnight they stopped. They now tied a plaited
thong around my arms, and drew my hands behind me. They
tied them so tight that the scars can be easily seen to this day.
They then tied a similar thong around my ankles, and drew my
feet and hands together. They now turned me on my face and I
was unable to trim over, when they commenced beating me over
the head with their bows, and it was with great difficuty I could
keep from smothering in my blood ; for the wound they gave me
with the hoe, and many others, were bleeding freely.
I suppose it was to add to my misery that they brought my
little James Pratt so near me that I could hear him cry. He
would call for mother; and often was his voice weakened by
the blows they would give him. I could hear the blows. I
could hear his cries ; but oh, alas, could offer him no relief. The
rest of the prisoners were brought near me, but we were not
allowed to speak one word together. My aunt called me once,
and I answered her; but, indeed, I thought she would never
call or I answer again, for they jumped with their feet upon us,
which nearly took our lives. Often did the children cry, but
were soon hushed by such blows that I had no idea they could
survive. They commenced screaming and dancing around the
scalps ; kicking and stamping the prisoners.
I now ask you, my christian reader, to pause. You who are
living secure from danger — you who have read the sacred scrip-
tures of truth — who have been raised in a land boasting of
christian philanthropy — I say, I now ask you to form some idea
of what my feelings were. Such dreadful, savage yelling ! enough
to terrify the bravest hearts. Bleeding and weltering in my
blood ; and far worse, to think of my little darling Pratt ! Will
this scene ever be effaced from my memory? Not until my
spirit is called to leave this tenement of clay; and may God
grant me a heart to pray for them, for "they know not what
Next morning, they started in a northern direction. They
tied me every night, as before stated, for five nights. During
the first five days, I never ate one mouthful of food, and had but
a very scanty allowance of water. Notwithstanding my suffer-
ings, I could not but admire the country — being prairie and
timber, and very rich. I saw many fine springs. It was some 70
or 80 miles from the fort to the Cross Timbers. This is a range
of timber-land from the waters of Arkansas, bearing a south-
west direction, crossing the False Ouachita, Red River, the heads
of Sabine, Angelina, Natchitoches, Trinity, Brazos, Colorado,
&c, going on southwest, quite to the Rio Grande. The range
of timber is of an irregular width, say from 5 to 35 miles wide,
and is a very diversified country ; abounding with small prairies,
skirted with timber of various kinds — oak, of every description,
ash, elm, hickory, walnut and mulberry. There is more post
oak on the uplands than any other kind ; and a great deal of
this range of timber land is very rough, bushy, abounds with
briers, and some of it poor. West, or S. W. of the Brazos, it is
very mountainous. As this range of timber reaches the waters
of the Rio Grande, (Big River,) it appears to widen out, and is
directly adjoining the timber covering the table lands between
Austin and Santa Fe. This country, particularly southwest of
the Brazos, is a well watered country, and part of it will be
densely inhabited. The purest atmosphere I ever breathed was
that of these regions.
After we reached the Grand Prairie, we turned more to the
east; that is, the party I belonged to. Aunt Elizabeth fell to
the Kitchawas, and my nephew and neice to another portion of
I must again call my reader to bear with me in rehearsing the
continued barbarous treatment of the Indians. My child kept
crying, and almost continually calling for "Mother," though I
was not allowed even to speak to it. At the time they took off
my fetters, they brought my child to me, supposing that I gave
suck. As soon as it saw me, it, trembling with weakness, hast-
ened to my embraces. Oh, with what feelings of love and sor-
row did I embrace the mutilated body of my darling little James
Pratt. I now felt that my case was much bettered, as I thought
they would let me have my child ; but oh, mistaken, indeed, was
I; for as soon as they found that I had weaned him, they, in
spite of all my efforts, tore him from my embrace. He reached
out his hands towards me, which were covered with blood, and
cried, "Mother, Mother, oh, Mother!" I looked after him as
he was borne from me, and I sobbed aloud. This was the last
I ever heard of my little Pratt. Where he is, I know not.
Progressing farther and farther from my home, we crossed
Big Red River, the head of Arkansas, and then turned more to
the northwest. We now lost sight of timber entirely.
For several hundred miles after we had left the Cross Tim-
ber country, and on the Red River, Arkansas, &c, there is a
fine country. The timber is scarce and scrubby. Some streams as
salt as brine ; and others, fine water. The land, in part, is very
rich, and game plenty.
We would travel for weeks and not see a riding switch.
Buffalo dung is all the fuel. This is gatherd into a round pile ; and
when set on fire, it does very well to cook by, and will keep fire
for several days.
In July, and in part of August, we were on the Snow Moun-
tains. There it is perpetual snow; and I suffered more from
cold than I ever suffered in my life before. It was very seldom
I had any thing to put on my feet, but very little covering for my
body. I had to mind the horses every night, and had a certain
number of buffalo skins to dress every moon. This kept me
employed all the time in day-light; and often would I have to
take my buffalo skin with me, to finish it whilst I was minding
the horses. My feet would be often frozen, even while I would
be dressing skins, and I dared not complain; for my situation
still grew more and more difficult.
In October, I gave birth to my second son. As to the months,
&c, it was guess work with me, for I had no means of keeping
the time. It was an interesting and beautiful babe. I had, as
you may suppose, but a very poor chance to comfort myself with
any thing suitable to my situation, or that of my little infant.
The Indians were not as hostile now. as I had feared they would
be. I was still fearful they would kill my child; and having
now been with them some six months, I had learned their lan-
guage. I would often expostulate with my mistress* to advise
me what to do to save my child; but all in vain. My child
was some six or seven weeks old, when I suppose my master
thought it too much trouble, as I was not able to go through as
much labor as before. One cold morning, five or six large In-
dians came where I was suckling my infant. As soon as they
came in I felt my heart sick ; my fears agitated my whole frame
to a complete state of convulsion; my body shook with fear in-
deed. Nor were my fears vain or ill-grounded. One of them
caught hold of the child by the throat; and with his whole
strength, and like an enraged lion actuated by its devouring na-
ture, held on like the hungry vulture, until my child was to
all appearance entirely dead. I exerted my whole feeble strength
* Having fallen into the hands of an old man that had only his wife
and one daughter, who composed his family, I was compelled to reverence
the both women as mistresses.
to relieve it; but the other Indians held me. They, by force,
took it from me, and threw it up in the air, and let it fall on the
frozen ground, until it was apparently dead.
They gave it back to me. The fountain of tears that had
hitherto given vent to my grief, was now dried up. While I
gazed upon the bruised cheeks of my darling infant, I discovered
some symptoms of returning life. Oh, how vain was my hope
that they would let me have it if I could revive it. I washed
the blood from its face ; and after some time, it began to breathe
again; but a more heart-rending scene ensued. As soon as
they found it had recovered a little, they again tore it from my
embrace and knocked me down. They tied a platted rope round
the child's neck, and drew its naked body into the large hedges of
prickly pears, which were from eight to twelve feet high. They
would then pull it down through the pears. This they repeated
several times. One of them then got on a horse, and tying the
rope to his saddle, rode round a circuit of a few hundred yards,
until my little innocent one was not only dead, but literally torn
to pieces. I stood horror struck. One of them then took it up
by the leg, brought it to me, and threw it into my lap. But in
praise to the Indians, I must say, that they gave me time to dig a
hole in the earth and bury it. After having performed this last
service to the lifeless remains of my dear babe, I sat down and
gazed with joy on the resting place of my now happy infant;
and I could, with old David, say, "You cannot come to me, but I
must go to you;" and then, and even now, whilst I record the
awful tragedy, I rejoice that it has passed from the sufferings
and sorrows of this world. I shall hear its deathly cries no
more ; and fully and confidently believing, and solely relying on
the imputed righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, I feel that my
happy babe is now with its kindred spirits in that eternal world
of joys. Oh! will my dear Saviour, by his grace, keep me
through life's short journey, and bring me to dwell with my
happy children in the sweet realms of endless bliss, where I shall
meet the whole family of Heaven — those whose names are re-
corded in the Lamb's Book of Life.
I would have been glad to have had the pleasure of laying
my little James Pratt with this my happy infant. I do really be-
lieve I could have buried him without shedding a tear; for, in-
deed, they had ceased to flow in relief of my grief. My heaving
bosom could do no more than breathe deep sighs. Parents, you
little know what you can bear. Surely, surely, my poor heart
We left this place and as usual, were again on a prairie,
We soon discovered a large lake of water. I was very thirsty;
and although we traveled directly towards it, we could never get
any nearer to it. It did not appear to be more than forty or
fifty steps off, and always kept the same distance. This aston-
ished me beyond measure. Is there any thing like magic in this,
said I. I never saw a lake, pond, or river, plainer in my life.
My thirst was excessive, and I was panting for a drop of water ;
but I could get no nearer to it. I found it to be a kind of gas,
as I supposed, and I leave the reader to put his. own construction
upon it. It is, by some, called water gas. It looks just like
water, and appears even to show the waves. I have often seen
large herds of Buffalo feeding in it. They appeared as if they
were wading in the water ; and their wakes looked as distinct as
in real water.*
In those places, the prairies are as level as the surface of a
lake, and can better be described by at once imagining yourself
looking at a large lake. I have but a faint idea of the cause;
but from the number of sea shells, (oyters', &c.,) I have no
doubt that this great prairie was once a sea.
I was often on the salt plains. There the salt some little re-
sembles dirty snow on a very cold day, being very light. The
wind will blow it for miles. I have seen it in many places half
leg deep ; whilst other parts of the ground would be naked, owing
to the strong winds drifting it.
I was at some of the salt lakes, which are very interesting to
the view. Thousands of bushels of salt — yea, millions — resem-
bling ice; a little on the muddy or milky order. It appears
that there would not be consumption for this immense amount
of salt in all the world; for it forms anew when it is removed,
so that it is inexhaustible.
These prairies abound with such a number and variety of
beasts, that pages could not describe them.
1st. The little prairie dog is as large as a gray squirrel.
Some of them are as spotted as a leopard ; but they are mostly of a
dark color, and live in herds. They burrow in the ground.
As a stranger approaches them, they set up a loud barking ; but
* This was the mirage, common to large deserts and prairies. Those
travelers in the East, who have passed over the deserts of Asia and Africa,
make frequent mention of these phenomena-
will soon sink down into their holes. They are very fat, and
fine to eat.
2nd. The prairie fox is a curious animal: It is as tall as a
small dog — its body not larger than a grey squirrel, but three
times as long. Their legs are remarkably small; being but
little larger than a large straw. They can run very fast. Sel-
3rd. The rabbit rivals the snow in whiteness, and is as large
as a small dog. They are very active, and are delicious to eat.
They can run very fast. I have thought they were the most
beautiful animal I ever saw.
4th. The mountain sheep are smaller than the common
sheep, and have long hair. They will feed on the brink of the
steepest precipice, and are very active. They are very plentiful
about the mountians.
5th. Buffalo, the next largest animal known, except the
elephant. Their number no one can tell. They are found in
the prairies and seldom in the timber even when there is any.
Their flesh is the most delicious of all the beef kind I have seen.
I have often seen the ground covered with them as far as the
eye could reach.
The Indians shoot them with their arrows from their horses.
They kill them very fast, and will even shoot an arrow entirely
through one of these large animals.
6th. The Elk, the largest of the deer species, with very
large horns, and often more than six feet long. There are but
few of them found in the same country with the buffalo ; but
they range along the Missouri river in parts of the Rocky Moun-
tains. Their flesh is like venison.
7th. The Antelope. This is, I believe, the fleetest animal
in the world. They go in large flocks or herds. They will see
the stranger a great way off, will run towards him till they get
within twenty or thirty steps, and then the whole herd (perhaps
some thousands) will wheel at the same moment, and are soon
two or three miles off. They will again approach you, but not
quite so near as at first, and then wheel again. They generally
make about three or four of these visits, still wheeling from you
at a greater distance. They will then leave you. They are
much like the goat, and are by some called the wild goat.
8th. There are a great variety of wolves on the prairies;
the large grey wolf, the large black wolf, the prairie wolf, and,
I believe, the proper jackall. There is a large white wolf which
will weigh 300 pounds, has very long hair of silvery white,
and is very ferocious. They will kill a buffalo, and will not go
out of the way of man or beast.
9th. There are four kinds of bears in the mountains; the
white, grisley, red, and black bears. The grisley bear is the
largest and most powerful. They will weigh 1200 or 1400
pounds. They cannot climb, but live in the valleys about the
mountains. They are very delicious food. The white bear is
very ferocious, and will attack either man or beast. They are
hard to conquer. The Indians are very fearful of them, and
will not attack them; and even if attacked by them, will try to
make their escape. They are of a silvery white, and are found
along the brows of the Rocky Mountains. They are very fat
and delicious food. The common black bear is scarce, as is
also the red bear. The last species of bear is alone heard of
in the western part of the Rocky Mountains. They are the
most beautiful beast I ever saw, being red as vermillion.
10th. The common deer is in many places very plenty. In
the mountains they grow much larger than they do in Texas.
11th. Turkeys, on the heads of Columbia river, are very
numerous. They do not range on the prairies nor about the
12th. Wild horses (Mustangs) are very plenty on the
prairies. Thousands of the very finest horses, mules, jacks, &c,
may be seen in one day. They are very wild. The Indians often
take them by running them on their horses and throwing the
lasso over their heads. They are easily domesticated.
13th. Man-Tiger. The Indians say that they have found
several of them in the mountains. They describe them as being
of the feature and make of a man. They are said to walk erect,
and are eight or nine feet high. Instead of hands, they have
huge paws and long claws, with which they can easily tear a
buffalo to pieces. The Indians are very shy of them, and whilst
in the mountains, will never separate. They also assert that
there is a species of human beings that live in the caves in the
mountains. They describe them to be not more than three feet
high. They say that these little people are alone found in the
country where the man-tiger frequents, and that the former
takes cognizance of them, and will destroy any thing that
attempts to harm them.
14th. The beaver is found in great numbers in the ponds,
which are very numerous on the heads of the Columbia, Mis-
souri, Arkansas, Rio Grande, Platte, and all the country be-
tween; though it is very mountainous, and sometimes the ponds
are on the highest ground.
These strange animals, in many instances, appear to possess
the wisdom of human beings. They appear to have their family
connections, and each family lives separate, sometimes num-
bering more than a hundred in a family. A stranger is not
allowed to dwell with them. They burrow in the ground when
they cannot get timber to build huts. In case they can get tim-
ber, they will cut down quite large trees with their teeth, then
cut them off in lengths to suit their purposes ; sometimes five or
six feet long, and will then unite in hauling them to a chosen
spot, and build up their houses in the edge of the water. The
first story of some three feet high — one door under the water.
The next story is not so high, has three doors, one next the
water, one next the land, and one down through the floor into
the first story. There is continually a sentinel at the door next
the land, and on the approach of any thing that alarms them,
they are soon in the water.
They will move from one pond to another, and it is strange
to see what a large road they make in removing. Their fur and
size need no description. They are generally very fat, but the
tail only is fit to eat. The bait with which the traps are baited,
is collected from this animal, and is difficult to prepare, as there
has to be a precise amount of certain parts of the animal. If
there is too much of any one ingredient they will become
alarmed, and even leave the pond. In preparing the bait, no
part of your flesh must touch it, or they will not come near it.
The bait has to be changed every few days by adding some-
thing; a small piece of spignard or annis root may be dropped
into it. It is kept close in bladders, or skin bags, and nothing
that goes into it must be touched with the hands.
15th. Muskrats in those ponds are beyond number. They
also build houses in the ponds. They are built of any kind of
trash they can find.
The most abrupt range of the Rocky Mountains embraces a
large tract of country, and so incredibly high, and perpendicular
are they in many places, that it is impossible to ascend them.
At some places the tall sharp peaks of mountains resemble much
the steeple on a church. Probably you can see twenty of these
high peaks at one sight; and in other places the steep rock
bluff, perhaps 200 feet high, will extend ten miles perfectly
strait and uniform. In some places you will find a small tract
of level country on the tops of the mountains. These levels
are generally very rich. This range of mountains crosses the
heads of the Missouri, and bears in a southwesterly direction to,
and beyond the Rio Grande, even as far as I have ever been;
also, bearing north, down the Columbia river as far as I went,
and the head waters of the Platte, (perhaps I may be mistaken in
the names of some of the rivers.) They can better be described
by saying they are a dreadful rough range of mountains, I sup-
pose as high as any others in the world. The bottoms are very
rich. . It will be winter on the top of the mountains, and spring
or summer in the valleys. There is a kind of wild flax that
grows in these bottoms which yields a lint, out of which the In-
dians make ropes. It is very strong. As far as I was down on
the tributaries of the Columbia, the bottoms were seldom more
than one half mile wide; in some places a mile. The timber
is indifferent in the bottoms, and more indifferent on the high
The buffalo sometimes finds it very difficult to ascend or
descend these mountains, I have sometimes amused myself by
getting on the top of one of these high pinnacles and looking
over the country. You can see one mountain beyond another
until they are lost in the misty air. Where you can see the val-
leys, you will often see them literally covered with the buffalo,
sometimes the elk, wild horse, &c.
Northwest of the head of the Rio Grande, which is some 150
miles N. W. of Santa Fe, the country becomes more level. Part
of this country is inhabited by a nation of Indians, called Apat-
ches, and another tribe called Ferbelows. In this section of
country there are some farms where fine wheat is raised.
This region of country is but very little known by the Amer-
ican people, being infested with such numerous tribes of Indians
that Americans are very unsafe to be there. If the timber was
not so indifferent, this country would be densely inhabited. The
soil would fully justify the idea. In point of health it certainly
is not surpassed in the world ; and although very far to the north,
is not excessively cold. I do not think it is colder than the state
of Tennessee. The present inhabitants say there is nothing like
fevers known in that country.
There are a great many caves in this high mountainous
country. I must give my readers an account of one of my adven-
tures in one of these caves. I am compelled to ask my reader
to indulge me in the following adventure, as I am certain that
this, as well as others of my adventures, will appear very remark-
able; and reader, you will be compelled to fancy yourself in a
condition where life has lost its sweetness, before you will be
able to credit it. And here let me remark, that I have withheld
stating many things, that are facts, because I well know that
you will doubt whether any person could survive what I have
undergone. I further assure you, my reader, that I have not
written one word but what is fact. But to my story.
At one time, whilst on the Rocky Mountains, I had discov-
ered a cave near the foot of the mountain. Having noticed some
singular rocks, &c, at its mouth, that excited in me curiosity
to explore this singular looking place, and the time drawing
nigh, that we were to leave this encampment, I was much afraid
I would not have an an opportunity of satisfying this curiosity.
I had repeatedly asked my mistress to permit me to go into the
cave, but she refused. A few days before we were to leave,
however, she yielded a reluctant consent to my singular desire,
and also permitted my young mistress to accompany me.
I immediately set about making my arrangements for this
adventure. I procured some buffalo tallow, and made of a part
of it some large candles, (if I may so call them) and took with
me some tallow to make more, should I need them. I took
with me the necessary instruments for striking fire, procured
some light fuel, and thus prepared, we started into the cave. We
had not proceeded more than 30 or 40 rods, when my compan-
ion became alarmed. I told her there was nothing alarming yet,
and tried to persuade her to go on with me, but she refused to go
any farther herself, or to let me go. I was, however, determined
to proceed, and she appeared determined that I should return.
A combat now ensued, and she struck at me with a piece of
the wood we had with us. I dodged the blow, and knocked her
down with another piece. This made her yell most hideously;
but being both out of sight and out of hearing of any person,
I cared not for her cries, but firmly told her that if she attempt-
ed again to force me to return until I was ready, I would kill
her. In the scuffle, being both down, the candle had fallen
from my hand, and fortunately was not put out. I picked it up,
and here a sight was presented to my view that surpasses all de-
scription. Innumerable stars, from the most diminutive size up
to that of the full moon, studded the impenetrable gloom above
and around us. I had not, until now, noticed the sublime and
awful appearance of the cave. It was this sight that had alarm-
ed my companion, and finding it impossible to induce her to pro-
ceed on the adventure with me, I agreed, on the condition that
she would help me to mind the horses, to return with her to the
mouth of the cave, which I did, and then returned to prosecute
my adventure in the cave.
On reaching the battle-ground, I felt a great anxiety to find
out the cause of this strange scene, which upon a close examina-
tion ,was more splendid than the mind can conceive. Reader,
you may fancy yourself viewing, at once, an entirely new plane-
tary system, a thousand times more sublime and more beautiful
than our own, and you fall far short of the reality I here wit-
nessed. I soon discovered that these lights proceeded from the
reflections of the light of the candle by the almost innumerable
chrystalized formations in the rocks above, and on either side.
The room I was in was large, say 100 feet wide, and its length
was beyond my sight. The ceiling was about twelve feet high,
and the floor was nearly smooth, and in many places was as
transparent as the clearest glass. The sides and ceiling were
thickly set with the same material, from which projected thou-
sands of knobs or lumps, varying from 1 to 30 inches in length.
The reflections of the light of the candle, from these transparent
lumps, exactly resembling the clearest ice, proved to be the stars
that had caused so much alarm in my young mistress, and won-
der in me. Having satisfied my curiosity by a full examination
of this singular apartment, I pursued my journey in the bowels
of the earth.
For a distance of three or four miles, the cave differed in ap-
pearance and width, but nothing worthy of notice was observed.
I now came to another place that excited my admiration. The
cave forked, the ceiling or roof of the right hand fork being about
10 feet high and 6 feet wide. This avenue was obstructed by
the intervention of bars of these transparent formations,
reaching from the ceiling to the floor. They were to close
together to permit my body to pass beween them, and the room,
into which I could look, surpassing, in splendor, any thing I
had yet seen, I was anxious to explore it. After much labor, I
succeeded in breaking one of these bars, and now entered one
of the most spacious and splendid rooms my eyes ever beheld.
It was about 100 feet in diameter, and 10 feet high. It was
nearly circular, and the walls, ceiling and floor being entirely
transparent, presented a scene of which the mind can form no
just conception, much less the pen describe. I know my read-
ers would not credit if I were to attempt to describe it. I
therefore leave my readers to their own conjectures of how
a room would look, prepared as a house of public worship,
with a pulpit and three rows of seats around it, all of the
same material, as has been described, on one side, and on the
other a beautiful clear stream of water.
The water of this river, or creek, was so clear that I could
have seen a pin on the bottom. It was about 50 yards wide,
and varied from one to two feet deep. I crossed it, and after
going down it a mile or more, I heard most terrific roaring.
I continued my course in the direction from whence it came
until I reached a place where this stream fell down a precipice,
the depth of which I could form no conjecture, but from deaf-
ening roar that it made, it must have been immense.
Being much fatigued, and having come to the end of my
journey, I sat down to rest. I had not been seated here long
before I fell asleep, as I suppose, and in the confused roar of
the waters I fancied I could hear the dying screams of my in-
fant. I thought of home and my friends far away, that I
must never see again. My wounded body appeared to bleed
afresh, as my mind reverted back to the cruelties inflicted upon
me by my barbarian captivators, when there appeared to me
the form of a human being. He held in his hand a bottle con-
taining a liquid, with which he bathed my wounds, which
ceased paining, and strange to say never hurt me afterwards.
(This I know is not fancy, and sometimes, in reflecting upon
this adventure, I am lost in doubt as to whether this whole scene
was reality or only a dream.) He consoled me with kind
words, that I well remember, but shall not here relate. Oh,
could it have been possible that He who comforts the afflicted
and gives strength to the weak, that God, in His bountiful
mercy could have extended His hand to a poor wretch like me.
whilst thus buried in the earth. How inscrutible are thy
ways, Oh, God; and thy mercy and wisdom, how unsearchable.
Were I to go give vent to my feelings, and possessed the mental
capacity equal to the task, it would swell this humble narra-
tive far beyond the limits I have prescribed to it.
Having renewed my light, I retraced my steps. I found
the distance much greater, on returning, (or it appeared so,)
than I thought. On reaching the place where my young mis-
tress turned back, I found that the Indians had been in the
cave looking for me. I reached the camp just as the sun was
setting, and was astonished to learn that I had spent two days
and one night in the cave. I never, in my life, had a more in-
teresting adventure, and although I am now in the city of
Houston, surrounded by friends and all the comforts of life,
to sit alone, and in memory, retrace my steps in this cave,
gives me more pleasurable feelings than all the gaudy show
and pleasing gaiety with which I am surrounded. The im-
pressions made upon my mind in this cave, have since served
as a healing balm to my wounded soul.
There are some interesting incidents connected with this
adventure, which I do not think proper to give the public at
this time; they may, perhaps, be published hereafter. I have
given but a very partial description of one of the most inter-
esting scenes that occurred.
About the middle of March, all the Indian bands — that is,
the Comanches, and all the hostile tribes, assembled and held a
general war council. They met on the head waters of the Ar-
kansas, and it was the largest assemblage I ever saw. The coun-
cil was held upon a high eminence, descending every way. The
encampments were as close as they could stand, and how far
they extended I know not; for I could not see the outer edge of
them with my naked eye.
I had now been with them so long that I had learned their
language, and as the council was held in the Comanche language,
I determined, (for I yet entertained a faint hope that I would be
released,) to know the result of their proceedings. It being con-
trary to their laws to permit their squaws to be present in their
councils, I was several times repulsed with blows, but I cheer-
fully submitted to abuse and persevered in listening to their
A number of traditionary ceremonies were performed, such
as would be of but little interest to the reader. This ceremony
occupied about three days, after which they came to a determin-
ation to invade and take possession of Texas. It was agreed
that those tribes of Indians who were in the habit of raising
corn, should cultivate the farms of the people of Texas ; the prai-
rie Indians were to have entire control of the prairies, each
party to defend each other. After having taken Texas, killed
and driven out the inhabitants, and the corn growing Indians had
raised a good supply, they were to attack Mexico. There they
expected to be joined by a large number of Mexicans who are
disaffected with the government, as also a number that would
or could be coerced into measures of subordination, they would
soon possess themselves of Mexico. They would then attack the
They said that the white men had now driven the Indian
bands from the East to the West, and now they would work this
plan to drive the whites out of the country; they said that the
white people had got almost around them, and in a short time
they would drive them again. I do believe that almost every
band or nation of Indians was represented in that Council, and
there was but one thing that was left unsettled, that was the time
of attack— some said, the spring of 1838, and others said the
spring of 1839; though this matter was to be left measurably
to the Northern Indians, and to be communicated to the chiefs
of the Comanches. The Council continued in session seven
days, and at the end of that period, they broke up. One Indian
came to me on the prairie, and stated that he was a Beadie, that
he lived on the San Jacinto river, and that they were determined
to make servants of the white people, and cursed me in the
English language, which were the only English words I had heard
during my captivity.
On one occasion, my young mistress and myself were out a
short distance from town. She ordered me to go back to the
town and get a kind of instrument with which they dig roots.
Having lived as long, and indeed longer than life was desirable,
I determined to aggravate them to kill me.
I told her I would not go back. She, in an enraged tone,
bade me go. I told her I would not. She then with savage
screams ran at me. I knocked, or, rather, pushed her down.
She, fighting and screaming like a desperado, tried to get up;
but I kept her down ; and in the fight I got hold of a large buf-
falo bone. I beat her over the head with it, although expecting
at every moment to feel a spear reach my heart from one of the
Indians; but I lost no time. I was determined if they killed
me, to make a cripple of her. Such yells as the Indians made
around us — being nearly all collected — a Christian mind cannot
conceive. No one touched me. I had her past hurting me, and
indeed, nearly past breathing, when she cried out for mercy. I
let go my hold of her, and could but be amazed that not one of
them attempted to arrest or kill me, or do the least thing for her.
She was bleeding freely; for I had cut her head in several
places to the skull. I raised her up and carried her to the camp.
A new adventure this. I was yet undetermined what would
grow out of it. All the Indians seemed as unconcerned as if
nothing had taken place. I washed her face and gave her water.
She appeared remarkably friendly. One of the big chiefs came
to me, and appeared to watch my movements with a great deal
of attention. At length he observed —
"You are brave to fight — good to a fallen enemy — you are
directed by the Great Spirit. Indians do not have pity on a
fallen enemy. By our law you are clear. It is contrary to our
law to show foul play. She began with you, and you had a
right to kill her. Your noble spirit forbid you. When Indians
fight, the conqueror gives or takes the life of his antagonist — and
they seldom spare them."
This was like balm to my soul. But my old mistress was
very mad. She ordered me to go and get a large bundle of
straw. I soon learned it was to burn me to death. I did not
fear that death; for I had prepared me a knife, with which I
intended to defeat her object in putting me to death by burning,
having determined to take my own life. She ordered me to
cross my hands. I told her I would not do it. She asked me
if I was willing for her to burn me to death without being tied.
I told her that she should not tie me. She caught up a small
bundle of the straw, and setting it on fire, threw it on me. I
soon found I could not stand fire. I told her that I should fight
if she burnt me any more, (she had already burnt me to blisters
in many places.) An enraged tiger could not have screamed
with more terrific violence than she did. She set another bun-
dle on fire, and threw it on me. I was as good as my word.
I pushed her into the fire, and as she raised, I knocked her
down into the fire again, and kept her there until she was as
badly burned as I was. She got hold of a club and hit me a
time or two. I took it from her, and knocked her down with it.
So we had a regular fight. I handled her with more ease than I
did the young woman. During the fight, we had broken down
one side of the house, and had got fully out into the street. After
I had fully overcome her, I discovered the same diffidence
on the part of the Indians as in the other fight. The whole of
them were around us, screaming as before, and no one touched
us. I, as in the former case, immediately administered to her.
All was silent again, except now and then, a grunt from the old
woman. The young woman refused to help me into the house
with her. I got her in, and then fixed up the side of the house
that we had broken.
Next morning, twelve of the chiefs assembled at the Council
House. We were called for, and we attended; and with all the
solemnity of a church service, went into the trial. The old lady
told the whole story without the least embellishment. I was
asked if these things were so. I answered, "Yes." The young
woman was asked, "Are these things true?" She said they were.
We were asked if we had any thing to say. Both of the others
said "No." I said I had. I told the Court that they had mis-
treated me — they had not taken me honorably; that they had
used the white flag to deceive us, by which they had killed my
friends — that I had been faithful, and had served them from
fear of death, and that I would now rather die than be treated as
I had been. I said that the Great Spirit would reward them for
their treachery and their abuse to me. The sentence was, that I
should get a new pole for the one that we had broken in the
fight. I agreed to it, provided the young woman helped me.
This was made a part of the decree, and all was peace again.
This answered me a valuable purpose afterwards, in some
other instances. I took my own part, and fared much the better
I shall next speak of the manners and customs of the In-
dians, and in this I shall be brief — as their habits are so ridicu-
lous that this would be of but little interest to any.
They never stay more than three or four days in one place,
unless it is in very cold weather; in that case, they stay until
the weather changes. Their houses are made of skins, stretched
on poles, which they always carry with them. Their poles are
tied together, and put on each side of a mule, whilst one end
drags on the ground. The women do all the work, except killing
the meat. They herd the horses, saddle and pack them, build
the houses, dress the skins, meat, &c. The men dance every
night, during which, the women wait on them with water.
No woman is admitted into any of their Councils ; nor is she
allowed to enquire what their councils have been. When they
move, the women do not know where they are going. They are
no more than servants, and are looked upon and treated as such.
I knew one young man have his mother hung for refusing to get
him feathers for his arrows, and appeared rejoiced at her death.
They are traditionary in their manner of cooking. It is con-
sidered a great sin, and sure defeat, to suffer meat to be broiled
and boiled on the same fire at the same time. Every kind of
provision has to be cooked and eaten by itself. When meat is
broiling, or boiling, no person is allowed to pass so near as to
suffer their shadow to pass over the meat, or it is not fit to eat.
They often eat their meat entirely raw. When they kill meat,
they suffer nothing to be lost. They have rigid laws, and rigo-
rously enforce them when violated. They know no such thing
as mercy. They have no language to express gratitude, only
to say I am glad.
Dancing is a part of their worship. Torturing their prison-
ers is another. They pay their homage to a large lump of
platina,* which lays in the Cross Timbers, on the waters of the
Brazos. Every year, the chiefs collect sacrifices, and offer them
to this their God. These offerings consist of beads, muscle shells,
perriwinkles, &c. There are several bushels of beads that have
been left there as sacrifices. They worship different things
while on the prairie. Some worship a pet crow — some a deer
skin, with the sun and moon pictured on it. The band that I
was with, worshipped an eagle's wing. Those things are kept
as sacredly by them, as the Holy Scriptures are by us. They
drink water every morning until they vomit — particularly when-
they are going to war. They believe in a Supreme Being — the
resurrection of the body, and in future rewards and punishments.
I am informed, however, that some tribes do not believe in these
things. These Indians are not countenanced by the others.
Their manner of doctoring by faith is amusing. When any
of the men are sick, the principal civil chiefs order two of the
wigwams to be joined together, though open between. A hole
is dug in each of these camps, about two feet deep. In one of
them, a fire is built ; on the side of the other, is a lump of mud
as large as a man's head. All around the hole, as well as this
lump of mud, the ground is stuck full of willow sprouts. At
sun-rise, the sick man and musicians enter the camps, and the
music is kept up all day. No one must pass near enough to
allow his shadow to fall on the camp, or the patient is sure to
* Platina is a scarce and valuable metal, heavier and more durable
than gold. The Indians make arrow spikes of it sometimes. It is very
malleable. This lump will weigh some thousands of pounds.
die ; but if every thing is done right, he is sure to get well. If
he dies, it is attributed to a failure in some of the ceremonies.
Having said as much on this subject as is necessary, I shall
now return to my narrative.
On the head of Columbia river, I could sometimes get some
dry brush to make me a light to work by. We were now in a
very deep valley. One evening, I was going in search of some
dry brush, and discovered some shining particles on the ground.
I picked up one of them. It was about three-fourths of an
inch in circumference, of an oblong shape. I found it gave
light, which superseded, ever afterward, the necessity of using
dry brush. It was perfectly transparent. I leave my reader to
judge what it was. I thought it was a diamond. There were
unnumbered thousands of pieces. In some places, I could see
the little ravine on which they were, at the distance of a mile,
by the light which emanated from them. I lost this stone a few
days before I was purchased. I have good reason to believe
that one of the richest gold mines ever discovered may be found
in that valley; and it would be a pity for so much wealth to re-
main undiscovered. The Indians often found pieces large
enough to make arrow spikes, which is the only use they have
for it. They would at any time exchange one of these arrow
spikes for an iron one — the latter being harder and lighter. I
may hereafter say more on this subject.
In the province or country called Senoro, I found many curi-
osities. (I, perhaps, may be mistaken as to the country; as
all I know of it, I learned from the Indians and Mexican prison-
ers.) This country, I think, was a northwest course from Santa
Fe, about 700 miles. Here I found a great curiosity in a kind
of thorn, which is as complete a fish-hook as ever I saw, having
several strong beards on each hook; and what is still more
strange, there are various sizes on the same shrub. These hooks
are quite as strong as any that are made of steel, and more elas-
tic. I have two of them now that I have caught many a fish
with. I took them off the bush myself, and have kept them
ever since I have been released. I have often been offered five
dollars for one of them, but I have never been induced to part
with them. They often bring to my recollection the distant
country where I obtained them.
In this region of country, nearly every shrub and tree bears a
thorn or briar. The timber, what little there is, is very low and
scrubby. I wish I had language to give a fair description of
this part of the country, with its present inhabitants. There are
some Mexicans residing here. I tried to get one of them to buy
me. I told him that even if my father and husband were dead,
I knew I had land enough in Texas to fully indemnify him;
but he did not try to buy me, although he agreed to do it. Some
of the inhabitants are Indians. I am not certain of what tribe
they are; but they cultivate the land, and raise some corn and
potatoes. I was allowed to be among them but very little;
neither. do I believe them to be friendly with the Comanches —
though I saw no quarrel between them; but the Comanches
stole their horses and killed some of them as we were about
leaving. I learned from the women that it was very seldom the
Comanches went into that country. I saw here some springs
that were truly a curiosity. The water, or kind of liquid, was
about the consistency of tar, which would burn like oil, and was
as yellow as gold. The earth, in many places, is also yellow.
There are very few places in all this country, but what looks to
be very poor. From the time that we left the country of the
Rocky Mountains, and during the whole time we were in this
region, I do not think I saw one tree more than fifteen feet high ;
and those, as before stated, covered with thorns. The healthiest
looking Indians I ever saw, lived here. Notwithstanding it is a
healthy country, I do not think it ever will be settled by white
men, as I saw nothing to induce white men to settle there. I
have neglected to mention that the Indians have very rigid laws
in the collection of debts. If one man owes another, it stands
perpetually as a debt until paid. When a creditor brings a suit
for a debt, it is done by informing the civil chiefs. They imme-
diately find out the amount due, which is recovered in buffalo
skins, furs, mules, horses, bows, arrows, &c, according to the
amount. The debtor is immediately informed of the amount
that stands against him, and if he does not at once discharge
the debt, it is in the power of the creditor, at any time, to en-
fore this judgment — which amounts to disfranchisement — that
is, the debtor can hold no office, not even that of musician. He
is not allowed to dance with his tribe, nor to hunt with them.
If the debt is still unpaid when the debtor dies, his children are
held under the same restrictions as those incurred by the father ;
nor are their wives allowed to associate with other women.
There are among them delinquent debtors, who are doubtless
now bound for debts contracted by their forefathers five hundred
years ago. Some use great exertions to pay the debt; but the
last cent must be paid.
They have their different grades of officers, both civil and
military. In many cases, these offices are hereditary. They
enforce their laws most rigorously, even among themselves.
They are strangers to any thing like mercy or sympathy, unless
it is in war. They appear to be much enraged at the death of
one of their men — particularly if their dead are scalped. If
their dead are not scalped, they do not mind it so much.. When
they have a battle, every exertion to prevent their dead from
falling into the hands of the enemy is made, even to the extent of
risking their own lives, which they often lose in trying to save,
or carry off their dead from the field of battle. If they cannot
get the body, they take off the scalp or head of their slain — such
is their aversion to the enemy becoming possessed of the scalp
The scalps of their enemies are kept as securities of good luck.
This good luck is transferable from the father to the son.
On one occasion, they had a very severe battle with the Osage
Indians, in which the Comanches lost several men. Part of
them fell into the hands of the Osages. They secured the heads
of some, and from others they took their scalps ; yet the Osages
got some of them. They grived much more for those who had
been scalped, than for those that were not.
In this battle, the Comanches got hold of several of the
Osages that were killed, and brought their bodies to the town.
They cut them up, broiled and boiled and ate them. My young
mistress got a foot, roasted it, and offered me part of it. They
appear to be very fond of human flesh. The hand or foot, they
say, is the most delicious.
These inhuman cannibals will eat the flesh of a human being
and talk of their bravery or abuse their cowardice with as much
unconcern as if they were mere beasts.
One evening as I was at my work, (being north of the Rocky
Mountains,) I discovered some Mexican traders.* Hope instant-
ly mounted the throne from whence it had long been banished.
My tottering frame received fresh life and courage, as I saw
them approaching the habitation of sorrow and grief where I
dwelt. They asked for my master, and we were directly with
* I had dreamed, the night before, that I saw an angel, the same I saw
in the cave. He had four wings. He gave them to me, and immediate-
ly I was on the wing, and was soon with my father. But, when I awoke,
behold! it was all a dream.
him. They asked if he would sell me. No music, no sounds that
ever reached my anxious ear, was half so sweet as "ce senure"
(yes, sir.) The trader made an offer for me. My owner refused.
He offered more, but my owner still refused. Utter confusion
hovers around my mind while I record this part of my history;
and I can only ask my reader, if he can, to fancy himself in my
situation ; for language will fail to describe the anxious thoughts
that revolved in my throbbing breast when I heard the trader
say he could give no more. Oh ! had I the treasures of the uni-
verse, how freely I would have given it ; yea, and then consented
to have been a servant to my countrymen. Would that my father
could speak to him; but my father is no more. Or one of my
dear uncles; yes, they would say "stop not for price." Oh! my
good Lord, intercede for me. My eyes, despite my efforts, are
swimming in tears at the very thought. I only have to appeal to
the treasure of your hearts, my readers, to conceive the state of
my desponding mind at this crisis. At length, however, the
trader made another offer for me, which my owner agreed to
take. My whole feeble frame was now convulsed in an ecstasy
of joy, as he delivered the first article as an earnest of the trade.
MEMORABLE DAY !
Col. Nathaniel Parker, of Charleston, Illinois, burst into my
mind ; and although I knew he was about that time in the Illinois
Senate, I knew he would soon reach his suffering niece, if he
could only hear of her. Yes, I knew he would hasten to my re-
lief, even at the sacrifice of a seat in that honorable body, if nec-
Thousands of thoughts revolved through my mind as the
trader was paying for me. My joy was full. Oh! shall I ever
forget the time when my new master told me to go with him to
his tent ? As I turned from my prison, in my very soul I tried to
return thanks to my God who always hears the cries of his
My God was with me in distress,
My God was always there;
Oh ! may I to my God address
Thankful and devoted prayer.
I was soon informed by my new master that he was going to
take me to Santa Fe. That night, sleep departed from my eyes.
In my fancy I surveyed the steps of my childhood, in company
with my dear relations. It would, I suppose, be needless for
me to say that I watched with eagerness the day to spring, and
that the night was long filled with gratitude to the Divine Con-
servator of the divine law of heaven and earth.
In the morning quite early, all things being ready, we start-
ed. We traveled very hard for seventeen days, when we reached
Santa Fe. Then, my reader, I beheld some of my countrymen,
and I leave you to conjecture the contrast in my feelings when I
found myself surrounded by sympathising Americans, clad in de-
cent attire. I was soon conducted to Col. William Donoho's
residence. I found that it was him who- had heard of the situa-
tion of myself and others, and being an American indeed, his
manly and magnanimous bosom, heaved with sympathy charac-
teristic of a Christian, had devised the plan for our release.*
Here I was at home. I hope that every American that reads this
narrative may duly appreciate this amiable man, to whom, under
the providence of God, I owe my release. I have no language to
express my gratitude to Mrs. Donoho. I found in her a mother,
to direct me in that strange land, a sister to condole with me in
my misfortune, and offer new scenes of amusement to me to
revive my mind. A friend? yes, the best of friends ; one who had
been blessed with plenty, and was anxious to make me com-
fortable; and one who was continually pouring the sweet oil of
consolation into my wounded and trembling soul, and was always
comforting and admonishing me not to despond, and assured
me that every thing should be done to facilitate my return to my
relatives; and though I am now separated far from her, I still
owe to her a debt of gratitude I shall never be able to repay but
with my earnest prayers for the blessing of God to attend her
The people of Santa Fe, by subscription, made up $150
to assist me to my friends. This was put into the hands of Rev.
C*********,f who kept it and never let me have it; and but for
the kindness of Mr. and Mrs. Donoho, I could not have got
along. Soon after I arrived in Santa Fe, a disturbance took
place among the Mexicans. They killed several of their lead-
ing men. Mr. Donoho considered it unsafe for his family, and
started with them to Missouri, and made me welcome as one of
his family. The road led through a vast region of prairie, which
is nearly one thousand miles across. This, to many, would have
been a considerable undertaking, as it was all the way through
* Mrs.. Harris had also been purchased by his arrangements.
t At the request of my father I forbear publishing his name.
an Indian country. But we arrived safely at Independence, in
Missouri, where I received many signal favors from many of the
inhabitants, for which I shall ever feel grateful. I stayed at Mr.
Donoho's but I was impatient to learn something of my relatives.
My anxiety grew so great that I was often tempted to start
on foot. I tried to pray, mingling my tears and prayers to Al-
mighty God to intercede for me, and in his providence to devise
some means by which I might get home to my friends. Despite
of all the kind entreaties of that benevolent woman, Mrs.
Donoho, I refused to be comforted ; and who, I ask, under these
circumstances, could have been reconciled?
One evening I had been in my room trying to pray, and on
stepping to the door, I saw my brother-in-law, Mr. Nixon. I
tried to run to him, but was not able. I was so much overjoyed
I scarcely knew what to say or how to act. I asked, "are my
father and husband alive?" He answered affirmatively. "Are
mother and the children alive ?" He said they were. Every
moment seemed an hour. It was very cold weather, being now
in dead of winter.
Mr. Donoho furnished me a horse, and in a few days we
started, Mr. Donoho accompanying us. We had a long and
cold journey of more than one thousand miles, the way we were
compelled to travel, and that principally through' a frontier coun-
try. But having been accustomed to hardships, together with
my great anxiety, I thought I could stand any thing, and the
nearer I approached my people, the greater my anxiety grew.
Finally on the evening of the 19th day of February, 1838, I
arrived at my father's house in Montgomery county, Texas.
Here united tears of joy flowed from the eyes of father, mother,
brothers and sisters; while many strangers, unknown to me,
(neighbors to my father) cordially united in this joyful interview.
I am now not only freed from my Indian captivity, enjoying
the exquisite pleasure that my soul has long panted for.
Oh! God of Love, with pitying eye
Look on a wretch like me ;
That I may on thy name rely,
- Oh, Lord ! be pleased to see.
How oft have sighs unuttered flowed
From my poor wounded heart,
Yet thou my wishes did reward,
And sooth'd the painful smart.
The following lines were written by Mrs. Plummer just
before her death. Although they will not bear a critic's eye, yet
we have thought we would append them to her narrative.
Ye careless ones, who wildly stroll
On life's uneven tide —
List to the sorrows of my soul,
My heaving bosom hide.
'■ ' i i
Oh, parents will you lend an ear,
And listen to my grief;
Will you let fall for me one tear,
Or could this give relief?
' ! :1
But, oh, my soul ! my darling babe,
Was from my bosom torn,
It lies now in deaths gloomy shade,
And I am left to mourn.
Good LORD, I cried can I endure,
Such sorrow and deep grief,
His holy spirit kind and pure,
Give my poor soul relief.
It is very much to be regreted, that this little history of the
capture of the Parker Fort by the Indians, and the trials and
suffering the survivors had to endure, was not kept intact, we
feel it our duty to republish all that is left intelligible of this
little book, every effort to obain a full copy having failed.